The creator of the Shitty Media Men spreadsheet, which accused men in the industry of sexual misconduct, went public on Wednesday following rumors that Harper’s Magazine was considering blowing her cover in an upcoming article.
Moira Donegan, a former assistant editor of The New Republic, identified herself as the creator of the spreadsheet, an originally-private document that sent shockwaves through the media when it was first circulated in October.
Writing for New York magazine’s The Cut, Donegan described how dramatically her life changed when the crowdsourced list was made public hours after its creation. She said she lost friends and her job, adding: “I’ve learned that protecting women is a position that comes with few protections itself.”
It’s unclear which job Donegan was referring to in the article. She has written for the London Review of Books, n+1 magazine and The New Yorker, among other publications. She joined The New Republic in April; her last byline for the magazine appeared in July. Neither Donegan nor The New Republic responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Explaining the motivation behind the list, Donegan said it was “a first attempt at solving what has seemed like an intractable problem: how women can protect ourselves from sexual harassment and assault.” She said wanted to create a private, anonymous platform where women in the media could “share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged,” but as Donegan explained, the list quickly took on a life of its own.
“It was active for only a few hours, during which it spread much further and much faster than I ever anticipated,” she wrote.
Less than a day after its creation, the file’s existence was revealed by BuzzFeed’s Doree Shafrir. The list next appeared in its entirety on Reddit.
“I was incredibly naïve when I made the spreadsheet,” Donegan wrote. “I was naïve because I did not understand the forces that would make the document go viral. 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 behavior described in the document, rather than on the document itself.”
Before Donegan took the spreadsheet offline, more than 70 men had been accused of sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behavior. The names of 14 men were “highlighted in red to denote more than one accusation of sexual assault or rape,” she wrote.
Several powerful men, including Hamilton Fish, publisher of The New Republic, and BuzzFeed’s White House reporter Adrian Carrasquillo, lost their jobs after their names appeared on the spreadsheet. The file also prompted an industry-wide “reckoning with abuses of power,” Donegan wrote.
Its impact on her own life was profound as well. Donegan described the fear of being exposed and the harassment she expected would inevitably follow. This anxiety was heightened after Harper’s Magazine reached out to her seeking confirmation that she was the list’s creator.
Social media buzzed this week with rumors that Harper’s was planning to “out” the spreadsheet’s creator in its March edition. Katie Roiphe, who was identified as the writer of the Harper’s story, refuted this claim, telling The New York Times that she “did not name the woman who started the list.”
Still, a campaign went viral as women banded together on social media to protect Donegan’s identity. Many expressed fear that she would be harassed if her identity was released. To prevent that from happening, several women stepped forward to claim that the list was of their own making.
On Wednesday, “Punisher: Warzone” director Lexi Alexander told her Twitter followers that she had “created the Shitty Men in Media list”:
Alexander maintained the ruse for several hours ― successfully tricking several news outlets that ran stories identifying her as the spreadsheet’s creator ― until Donegan’s reveal on Wednesday night.
“If you doxx or harm her I will hunt you down myself,” wrote Alexander. The director has since disabled her Twitter page.
In her exposé, Donegan said she decided to out herself before someone else did it for her.
“The outrage [about the Harper’s article] made it seem inevitable that my identity would be exposed even before the Roiphe piece ran,” she wrote. “All of this was terrifying. I still don’t know what kind of future awaits me now that I’ve stopped hiding.”
Despite her concerns, Donegan expressed gratitude to the women who used the spreadsheet and shared it with others.
“The experience of making the spreadsheet has shown me that it is still explosive, radical and productively dangerous for women to say what we mean. But this doesn’t mean that I’ve lowered my hopes. Like a lot of feminists, I think about how women can build power, help one another and work toward justice,” she wrote.
Donegan’s reveal was met with an outpouring of support on social media: