Someone has come out as the creator of the “Shitty Media Men” list, a Google spreadsheet in which women anonymously named dozens of men who were allegedly involved in sexual misconduct, including lewd comments, harassment, and assault.
Moira Donegan came forward as the creator of the list in an essay for the Cut published Wednesday. She said that the list, which was passed around by journalists and other media figures when it was created in October, was intended to address a gap in how these kinds of reports work today. The spreadsheet included a note that the information should be taken “with a grain of salt.”
“The anonymous, crowdsourced document was a first attempt at solving what has seemed like an intractable problem: how women can protect ourselves from sexual harassment and assault,” Donegan wrote.
“One long-standing partial remedy that women have developed is the whisper network, informal alliances that pass on open secrets and warn women away from serial assaulters,” she added. “Many of these networks have been invaluable in protecting their members. Still, whisper networks are social alliances, and as such, they’re unreliable. They can be elitist, or just insular.”
But once the list became public, Donegan said it took on a different life than she intended:
In the beginning, I only wanted to create a place for women to share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged. The hope was to create an alternate avenue to report this kind of behavior and warn others without fear of retaliation. Too often, for someone looking to report an incident or to make habitual behavior stop, all the available options are bad ones. … It was intended specifically not to inflict consequences, not to be a weapon — and yet, once it became public, many people immediately saw it as exactly that.
A former Vox employee was on the list. Some of the people on the list have faced further accusations, and several of them have been fired from their jobs.
Meanwhile, Donegan said she has also faced consequences for generating the list. “In the weeks after the spreadsheet was exposed, my life changed dramatically,” she wrote. “I lost friends: some who thought I had been overzealous, others who thought I had not been zealous enough. I lost my job, too. The fear of being exposed, and of the harassment that will inevitably follow, has dominated my life since.”
Donegan’s article comes after concerns that the creator of the list would be outed against her consent by an upcoming article in Harper’s Magazine by essayist Katie Roiphe. The reports of the upcoming article inspired a social media backlash, leading five writers to reportedly pull articles from future issues of Harper’s. Nicole Cliffe, a founder of the now-defunct site the Toast, had tweeted to Harper’s writers that she would “pay you cash for what you’d lose by yanking it” — encouraging writers to pull their articles from Harper’s in protest of the potential outing.
Roiphe told the New York Times that she was not going to out without consent the creator of the media list in her Harper’s article. But those assurances weren’t enough — and now the creator has outed herself.