The creator of the Shitty Men in Media list, New York-based writer Moira Donegan, never wanted to be identified as the list’s creator, she told The New York Times’ Ainara Tiefenthäler during her first on-camera interview. Donegan revealed her identity a week ago after it appeared that journalist Katie Roiphe was planning to out her in an upcoming piece for Harper’s magazine. Roiphe has denied that she planned on revealing Donegan’s identity, but acknowledged that she had asked a fact-checker to message her and inquire about whether she wanted to claim responsibility for the list.
“I actively tried to avoid this. I’m a very private person. I did not want this kind of attention to be on me,” she said, adding that she now lives in fear of possible violent retaliation from men — on the list or otherwise — who feel anger toward her for having creating it.
Donegan explained to Tiefenthäler how the list arose as a form of whisper network that was meant to allow women to share the names of men “who had behaved badly toward them, whether through sexual assault or rape or harassment.” She shared it with friends and colleagues in her industry who she knew had their own stories, and “from there, they sent it to people they knew had stories — and they sent it to people they knew had stories.”
The spreadsheet grew larger and larger — eventually encompassing more than 70 names, 14 of whom were highlighted in red to indicate multiple claims of rape or sexual assault against them. Eventually, the list became public knowledge after someone shared it on social media — prompting investigations of some of the men on the list, as well as a nationwide discussion.
“So much of the conversation after the spreadsheet was made public was about the methodology of the spreadsheet, and sort of the tactics that anonymous women were using to try and keep each other safe,” said Donegan. “People were more worried about a hypothetical man whose reputation might be damaged than real women who were really raped.”
Asked whether she felt guilty that some men on the list lost their jobs, Donegan noted that they were only fired after “they were found to have committed wrongdoing … it’s their responsibility that they acted that way.”
Read the full story at The New York Times and watch the full interview above.