Donegan claims she never expected the list to gain any sort of following or mainstream media attention: "I had imagined a document that would assemble the collective, unspoken knowledge of sexual misconduct that was shared by the women in my circles: What I got instead was a much broader reckoning with abuses of power that spanned an industry", she continued.
Donegan, a former editor at the New Republic, wrote that she created the list for women to share their accounts of workplace misconduct "without being needlessly discredited or judged".
It was created in October - carrying the disclaimer "take everything with a grain of salt" because it was labelled as "a collection of misconduct allegations and rumours" - and was passed among women working in the media in the U.S., who added their own experiences.
"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", she added.
On Tuesday, N+1 editor Dayna Tortorici tweeted that a magazine writer was about to reveal who'd begun the list-a shared Google Doc of reputedly predatory, or at least creepy, male writers and editors, most of whom are based in NY, and several of whom have been fired since their names appeared on the unpublished and unvetted and unsigned, but very powerful, list.
Since the first social media posts about the Harper's article appeared Tuesday afternoon, Roiphe has undergone something of a trial by Twitter, with numerous insults hurled her way.
After Donegan's essay was published, many women, including those in media, hailed her as hero and applauded her bravery in going public with her story. Tortorici went on to encourage the publication, which she did not identify, not to publish names. "This is one weakness of #MeToo: it only works on people who are capable of shame".
"The outrage made it seem inevitable that my identity would be exposed even before the Roiphe piece ran", Donegan wrote. What does she do, and what was her intent behind a list that has amassed so many names?
"In some of these conversations, we spent hours teasing out how these men, many of whom we knew to be intelligent and capable of real kindness, could behave so crudely and cruelly toward us".
Donegan admitted that one of the biggest mistakes was underestimating the scale of sexual harassment prevalent in the media industry.
It's the detail of her essay, along with the fact that most of the other people who came forward have since retracted their claims, that makes it pretty clear that this probably is the real deal now, and it provides some interesting clarifications. "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".
Donegan revealed her identity in an article for The Cut. In the following weeks, as a result, she lost friends and her job.
The writer remained anonymous and lived in "fear of being exposed".
Donegan may have been influenced to reveal herself after it was rumored that the author of the spreadsheet was to be named by Harper's magazine. But Donegan says a Harper's fact-checker sent her an email that said Roiphe "identifies you" in the article. People started criticizing the Harper's magazine and Roiphe for nor respecting Donegan's privacy.
"In contrast, the value of the spreadsheet was that it had no enforcement mechanisms: Without legal authority or professional power, it offered an impartial, rather than adversarial, tool to those who used it", she wrote. Shortly after, when it was made public that "a legacy print magazine" planned to name the author, Donegan found herself witnessing fervent Twitter debates about whether or not she should be outed. All of this was terrifying.
"I still don't know what kind of future awaits me now that I've stopped hiding", she wrote.