In a brave piece on New York Magazine’s The Cut, writer Moira Donegan has come forward as the creator of the “Shitty Media Men” list, a Google spreadsheet on which women could anonymously report sexually violent or inappropriate encounters with the men of media. This follows much uproar at the news that Harper’s would soon be publishing a cover story by Katie Roiphe, and that it was rumored to out Donegan as the list’s creator.
On The Cut, Donegan writes:
In early December, Roiphe had emailed me to ask if I wanted to comment for a Harper’s story she was writing on the “feminist moment.” She did not say that she knew I had created the spreadsheet. I declined and heard nothing more from Roiphe or Harper’s until I received an email from a fact checker with questions about Roiphe’s piece. “Katie identifies you as a woman widely believed to be one of the creators of the Shitty Men in Media List,” the fact checker wrote. “Were you involved in creating the list? If not, how would you respond to this allegation?” The next day, a controversy ensued on Twitter after Roiphe’s intention to reveal my identity was made public. People who opposed the decision by Harper’s speculated about what would happen to me as a result of being identified. They feared that I would be threatened, stalked, raped, or killed. The outrage made it seem inevitable that my identity would be exposed even before the Roiphe piece ran. All of this was terrifying.
But despite her fear, Donegan has decided to come forward herself and reiterate the importance of the list, stressing:
Recent months have made clear that no amount of power or money can shield a woman from sexual misconduct. But like me, many of the women who used the spreadsheet are particularly vulnerable: We are young, new to the industry, and not yet influential in our fields. As we have seen time after time, there can be great social and professional consequences for women who come forward. For us, the risks of using any of the established means of reporting were especially high and the chance for justice especially slim.
Regarding her forthcoming Harper’s piece, Roiphe rebuked the Twitter outrage, telling the New York Times, “I am looking forward to talking about what is actually in the piece when it actually comes out. I am not ‘outing’ anyone. I have to say it’s a little disturbing that anyone besides Trump views Twitter as a reliable news source.” Additionally, she claims that she had no knowledge of the list creator’s identity.
But based on Donegan’s account, one could infer that ‘outing’ is exactly what Roiphe was aiming for and—when you consider that Donegan says Roiphe initially reached out to her to discuss the vague concept of the “feminist movement”—it implies that Roiphe was dishonest to both Donegan and the Times. (Harper’s has declined to disclose the contents of Roiphe’s piece.)