Media Men list: Moira Donegan reveals she was author


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The author of an online spreadsheet that named men in the media industry alleged to have abused women has come forward, amid rumours that she was to be identified by a magazine.

Writer Moira Donegan said she created the list for women to share their stories “without being needlessly discredited or judged”.

The list quickly went viral when it was set up in October.

It was online for only 12 hours but gathered the names of more than 70 men.

Allegations against those named ranged from harassment to rape.

Writing in The Cut magazine, Ms Donegan said she was “incredibly naïve” when she made the Google spreadsheet, which was called the Shitty Media Men list.

It followed a string of allegations made against dozens of men in the entertainment industry, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

When it was released the list drew a mixture of praise and criticism, and was the subject of several media articles. Speculation had mounted that Ms Donegan was going to be identified as the list’s author by Harper’s magazine.

In her article for the The Cut, she said the anonymous, crowd-sourced list had been an attempt at solving “what has seemed like an intractable problem – how women can protect ourselves from sexual harassment and assault”.

“I only wanted to create a place for women to share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged,” she said.

“The hope was to create an alternate avenue to report this kind of behaviour and warn others without fear of retaliation.”

Ms Donegan, who has written for publications including The New Yorker, said the list spread “much further and much faster than I ever anticipated” and in a few hours was mentioned in a BuzzFeed article and then posted on the online forum Reddit.

“I had imagined a document that would assemble the collective, unspoken knowledge of sexual misconduct that was shared by the women in my circles: What I got instead was a much broader reckoning with abuses of power that spanned an industry,” she said.

She said she became “overwhelmed and scared” as more names and allegations were added to the list and was worried that her career might be ruined.

Although she decided to take the list down she said it was clear that it was “clearly cathartic” for the women who were using it “saying that it had happened to them too”.

“I was incredibly naïve when I made the spreadsheet. I was naïve because I did not understand the forces that would make the document go viral,” she added.

“I was naïve because I thought that the document would not be made public, and when it became clear that it would be, I was naïve because I thought that the focus would be on the behaviour described in the document, rather than on the document itself. It is hard to believe, in retrospect, that I really thought this. But I did.”

As speculation grew that Harper’s was about to name the list’s author, contributors threatened to stop writing for the magazine. Many feared that the anonymous author, once revealed, might be subject to abuse and threats.

The writer of the scheduled article, Katie Roiphe, told US media she would not be naming anyone behind the list. Harper’s told the New York Times: “We’re not going to tell the steps of the editing process.”


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