A former editor at The New Republic revealed in a lengthy essay published late Wednesday that she had started the online list of men in the media industry accused of sexual harassment. The editor, Moira Donegan, said she created the Google spreadsheet in October to allow women in the media industry to put in writing what many of them had long discussed in private: the names of men to stay away from, including sexual harassers and abusers. Within hours of its creation, the list grew beyond her expectations, as women shared it with friends and co-workers who anonymously added new names and new accusations.
“What was going on there was clearly cathartic for the women who were using it, telling their stories, encouraging one another, saying that it had happened to them too,” Ms. Donegan, 28, wrote on New York magazine’s website The Cut.
Ms. Donegan said she took the list down about 12 hours after she created it, when she learned that BuzzFeed had been writing an article about its existence. But it was too late to scrub the list completely from the internet: People had already made copies of it.
The list, titled “Shitty Media Men,” had real consequences, not only for several men named on the list who eventually lost their jobs, but also for Ms. Donegan. In her essay, she wrote that she lost friends and her job after the list was published. The list also became a source of rabid debate in media circles.
And this week, writers and editors warned on Twitter that Harper’s Magazine planned to name the list’s creator in an article in the March issue. The writer of the essay, Katie Roiphe, told The New York Times on Wednesday that she did not know who created it and would not out anyone in the essay.
But Ms. Donegan wrote that Ms. Roiphe sent her an email in December asking her thoughts about the feminist moment. She declined to comment, Ms. Donegan said, but then heard from Harper’s again this week when a fact checker emailed to say that Ms. Roiphe planned to name her in the magazine essay.
The outrage aimed at Harper’s on Twitter “made it seem inevitable that my identity would be exposed even before the Roiphe piece ran,” Ms. Donegan wrote. “All of this was terrifying. I still don’t know what kind of future awaits me now that I’ve stopped hiding.”
Soon after Ms. Donegan’s story was published late Wednesday, readers — many of them also women working in media — flooded Twitter, mostly to thank her for what they said was a show of courage and to praise her essay of nearly 2,900 words.
“I am a young journalist and I just want to say thank you. For so many reasons,” wrote one woman. “Regardless of whatever you originally thought would come of it, writing this down was brave. This list affirms what I guess we all must believe, to be doing this: that words hold a great deal of power.”
“So many women in media are applauding you, Moira, and we are rooting for you,” wrote another. “Please take good care of yourself.”
Credit: New York Times