Moira Donegan came out as the creator of the “Shitty Media Men” list in an essay she wrote for The Cut on Wednesday night. The list, created in October, was a Google spreadsheet for women to add names of the men working in media who sexually harassed or assaulted them, and to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by male media figures. The intention of the list was so women could anonymously post these incidents to warn others while being protected from the threats, disbelief, and violence many accusers experience when contacting police or going public with their accusations.
The essay Donegan wrote was in response to rumors that journalist Katie Roiphe was going to publish a story in Harper’s magazine about the list that would out Donegan. Since the rumours, Roiphe responded in an interview with the New York Times, saying was not going to “out anyone.” However, Donegan maintains that a Harper’s fact-checker contacted her and told her that Roiphe planned to identify her in the piece.
Read some of Donegan’s most critical points from her essay below:
On why she created the list:
Too often, for someone looking to report an incident or to make habitual behavior stop, all the available options are bad ones. The police are notoriously inept at handling sexual-assault cases. Human-resources departments, in offices that have them, are tasked not with protecting employees but with shielding the company from liability — meaning that in the frequent occasion that the offender is a member of management and the victim is not, HR’s priorities lie with the accused. When a reporting channel has enforcement power, like an HR department or the police, it also has an obligation to presume innocence. In contrast, the value of the spreadsheet was that it had no enforcement mechanisms: Without legal authority or professional power, it offered an impartial, rather than adversarial, tool to those who used it. 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.
On why accusations don’t always indicate guilt but that there are strength in numbers:
I added a disclaimer to the top of the spreadsheet: “This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt.” I sympathize with the desire to be careful, even as all available information suggests that false allegations are rare. The spreadsheet only had the power to inform women of allegations that were being made and to trust them to judge the quality of that information for themselves and to make their own choices accordingly. This, too, is still seen as radical: the idea that women are skeptical, that we can think and judge and choose for ourselves what to believe and what not to.
On the consequences of creating the list:
In the weeks after the spreadsheet was exposed, my life changed dramatically. 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. I’ve learned that protecting women is a position that comes with few protections itself.
Donegan ends the essay by thanking the people who have helped her in creating the document. She wrote, “The women who used the spreadsheet, and who spread it to others, used this power in a special way, and I’m thankful to all of them.” Donegan has recieved much support since revealing herself as the creator of the document. Many people have taken to Twitter to voice their support and tweet the hashtag #IstandwithMoira.
If you want to read more, you can read the full essay HERE.
Photo via Twitter/@MoiraDonegan
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