Moira Donegan in the #MeToo era
While a lot of women have stepped up to signify their support for the #MeToo movement to hold sexual harassers accountable, writer Moira Donegan took a big risk.
Donegan, 28 years old, created an anonymous, crowdsourced list– called the “Shitty Media Men” List– that identifies those “serial assaulters” for women so that they can protect themselves.
Even though she soon took it down, she faced being outed by Katie Roiphe for Harper Magazine.
To avoid this, Donegan revealed herself as the author of the list and is now facing a lawsuit from one of those who were identified in the list
Moira Donegan: Taking a stand
Donegan took the responsibility of creating the list despite other women willing to protect her identity when she wrote the article published in The Cut.
In the article, she said she put the question online as “a first attempt at solving what has seemed like an intractable problem: how women can protect ourselves from sexual harassment and assault.”
Likewise, on Twitter, she said: “In October, I made a google document. My life has been strange and sometimes frightening ever since.”
She explained that the list was a kind of a private “whisper network” for women as a way to help each other protect themselves from “serial assaulters” in the media industry.
The list, she said, was also a way to “share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged.”
Moira Donegan and the List
In this list, which was really a spreadsheet, women anonymously listed men in the media, where they worked, and their alleged misconduct– many of which were shocking and violent.
“Women recounted being beaten, drugged, and raped. Women recounted being followed into bathrooms or threatened with weapons. Many, many women recounted being groped at work, or shown a colleague’s penis,” Donegan wrote in her article.
Before she deactivated the list, it had been active for 12 hours and identified more than 70 men working in the media industry.
This list eventually caught the attention of media and was reported, with some calling it “irresponsible” while others criticizing it for not using traditional venues for reporting the behavior.
Though the list didn’t cite her as the creator, once the list became public, it cost her some friends and her job.
She said, “The fear of being exposed, and of the harassment that will inevitably follow, has dominated my life since.”
Moira Donegan faces the world
While it may seem that Donegan had to face the consequences of creating the list, many women came to her defense.
For example, writer Nicole Cliffe offered to pay freelancers working for Harper’s to pull their pieces if the magazine decides to publish Roiphe’s article.
Likewise, Charles Bryan said: “I cannot praise you, your writing, your thoughtfulness, or your courage enough. You’ve taken ownership of this moment and that is beyond admirable.”
For those men in the list, some of them were fired or disciplined by their employers after internal investigations were conducted.
These included Atlantic literary critic Leon Wieseltier and Paris Review editor Lorin Stein.
However, one of those identified by the list, The Rumpus founder and former editor-in-chief Stephen Elliott, is now suing Donegan for US$1.5 million in damages.
Marisa Siegel, the new owner and editor-in-chief for The Rumpus wrote: “Stephen’s decision to go after Moira is hostile and reprehensible. For me, it is unforgivable.”
“I, and The Rumpus, stand firmly with Moira Donegan. Please consider making a donation to Moira’s legal defense fund,” Siegel declared.