The 'Shitty Media Men' Spreadsheet Creator Revealed Herself In A Powerful Essay & Gets Real About What's Changed (And What Hasn't)

A Google spreadsheet listing allegations against many (powerful)  “Shitty Media Men” surfaced last October as part of the wide-spread backlash toward inappropriate workplace actions and abuse from powerful men in multiple industries. The men on the list were part of a so-called "whisper network" of people women should watch out for: “a range of rumors and allegations of sexual misconduct, much of it violent, by men in magazines and publishing."

The document was anonymously crowd-sourced from women across the media industry and it was meant to fight an insidious problem: to combat sexual harassment and assault and acknowledge the violence of forcing women to stay silent in order to keep their jobs. It had the names of 70 men in the industry, ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s. Fourteen of the names were highlighted in red to indicate more than one accusation.

On Wednesday, the author of the spreadsheet, Moira Donegan, came forward in an essay for New York Magazine's The Cut to address the complicated narrative around the controversial doc after Twitter rumors began to circulate that controversial "backlash feminist" writer Katie Roiphe planned to “out” the document's creator in an article for Harper's. 

What followed between those two moments, though, was something particularly interesting. Ana Breton of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” tweeted that they couldn’t out Donegan if everyone says they started the list. And many other women in the media space on Twitter started to follow in a “Spartacus”-like mini-movement of claiming ownership of the document.

Listen up, @Harpers is writing an article likely to ruin the author of the Shitty Men List, a very crucial and important list. BUT, if we all say we wrote it, they can’t target one specific person.

What I’m saying is that I wrote the list - let them know that you did too. ✊🏽

— Ana Breton (@missbreton) January 10, 2018

I'm interrupting my break for one tweet only, so take a screenshot: I created the shitty men in media list. You don't need to doxx me, just head to my Instagram account, it's easy to find out where I hang out if you want to say hi.

— Lexi Alexander ‎ (@Lexialex) January 10, 2018

seems to me men acting shitty started the shitty media men list

— Molly Priddy (@mollypriddy) January 11, 2018

Hey @Harpers I wrote the shitty men in media list.

— Ana Breton (@missbreton) January 10, 2018

While it was later reported by the New York Times that Roiphe had never planned to include the creator’s name in her story, the rumors and fear of being doxxed were enough to inspire Donegan to reveal herself, despite that act of solidarity.

In her piece, Donegan wrote of her own stories facing sexual harassment and abuse at work.

“Last summer, I saw two of the most notorious of these men clutching beers and laughing together at a party for a magazine in Brooklyn,” Donegan wrote. “’Doesn’t everyone know about them?’ another woman whispered to me. ‘I can’t believe they’re still invited to these things.’ But of course we could believe it. By then, we’d become resigned to the knowledge that men like them were invited everywhere.”

Donegan said she was “naïve” about the whole thing: From making the spreadsheet in the first place to expecting it not to go viral. She said that she's lost friends and her job because of the spreadsheet.

“I took the spreadsheet offline after about 12 hours, when a friend alerted me that Shafrir would soon be publishing an article at BuzzFeed making the document’s existence public,” Donegan wrote. “By then, the spreadsheet had gone viral.”

She said that the spreadsheet (full disclaimers and a note to take allegations with "a grain of salt" due to its crowd-sourced nature) started the conversation, but Donegan never meant for it to go public. She said it was meant to be a space for women to voice their experiences and not a judge, jury and executioner for the people mentioned.

However, she does recognize the spreadsheet and the backlash that has come forth in the last year as an important catalyst for change moving forward.

"...We’re being challenged to imagine how we would prefer things to be. This feat of imagination is about not a prescriptive dictation of acceptable sexual behaviors but the desire for a kinder, more respectful, and more equitable world," Donegan said. "There is something that’s changed: Suddenly, men have to think about women, our inner lives and experiences of their own behavior, quite a bit. That may be one step in the right direction."