The originator of a viral spreadsheet titled “S—ty Media Men,” in which women could anonymously report instances of sexual harassment by men in the media industry, has revealed herself to be Moira Donegan in a first-person essay for The Cut.
The identity of the person behind the document had recently become front-and-center on the internet after it became known that Katie Roiphe intended to reveal Donegan’s identity in a piece for Harper’s — a claim Roiphe has denied.
“Punisher: War Zone” director Lexi Alexander recently claimed to be the originator of the spreadsheet, but tweeted a link to Donegan’s post, explaining that she was not the true creator of the document and citing the “Spartacus” tactic from the 1960 film in which numerous slaves claim to be the leader of a slave revolt in order to protect the leader’s true identity. Alexander’s Twitter account appears to have since been deleted.
According to her Twitter profile, Donegan has contributed to publications such as London Book Review, Bookforum Magazine, N+1 and Page Turner (a subgroup of the New Yorker).
In the article, Donegan wrote that she intended the spreadsheet to “circumvent” the difficulties associated with reporting sexual harassment or misconduct through human resource or police channels.
“The anonymous, crowdsourced document was a first attempt at solving what has seemed like an intractable problem: how women can protect ourselves from sexual harassment and assault.”
“As we have seen time after time, there can be great social and professional consequences for women who come forward,” she wrote. “For us, the risks of using any of the established means of reporting were especially high and the chance for justice especially slim.”
She addressed the complaints many had with the spreadsheet as well, such as its anonymous nature and the fact that, as there was no attempt at verification of claims, it was susceptible to false accusations.
“I added a disclaimer to the top of the spreadsheet: ‘This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt,'” she stated. “I sympathize with the desire to be careful, even as all available information suggests that false allegations are rare. The spreadsheet only had the power to inform women of allegations that were being made and to trust them to judge the quality of that information for themselves and to make their own choices accordingly.”
Donegan explained that she had no idea how intense the nature of the reports within the document would become, or how many would be added. Women reported being beaten, drugged, and raped, in addition to instances of lewd behavior or groping. “This is what shocked me about the spreadsheet: the realization of how badly it was needed, how much more common the experience of sexual harassment or assault is than the opportunity to speak about it.”
She also asserted that the focus on the document itself, rather than the behavior described in it, was unexpected. “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,” she wrote.
According to Donegan, Roiphe did not inform her that she would be publishing Donegan’s name with the assertion that she was the creator of the spreadsheet. She wrote that Roiphe emailed her in early December asking if she wanted to comment on a story she was writing about the “‘feminist moment,'” an offer that Donegan declined. Donegan only found out she was going to be outed as the originator when a fact-checker contacted her.
Roiphe, however, told the New York Times Tuesday that her essay did not name the person behind the list, though several editors and writers on Twitter had stated that it would. “I am not ‘outing’ anyone,” she said. “I have to say it’s a little disturbing that anyone besides Trump views Twitter as a reliable news source.”
Donegan finished the post by explaining that despite all that had occurred since the creation of the spreadsheet and the controversy over the revelation of her identity, she feels grateful to the women who recounted their experiences on the spreadsheet.
“I think that the task at hand might be more rudimentary than I assumed: 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…The women who used the spreadsheet, and who spread it to others, used [the knowledge of our own experiences] in a special way, and I’m thankful to all of them.”