Photography: Markus Schreiber / AP / REX / Shutterstock
More than 70 names appeared on the Shitty Media Men spreadsheet when it was disconnected in October 2017. The writer Stephen Elliott is not the only one who denies the claims against him (his name appears next to a report of violation in the document ), but he is the only one who is taking legal action against his creator Moira Donegan, and (potentially) the unknown number of women who contributed to the document. Elliott filed his lawsuit this week, almost exactly one year after Donegan created the spreadsheet. He is looking for $ 1.5 million in damages.
The wrath of Elliot is not a surprise to anyone who has read his essay in Quillette earlier this year, and although he has been very … vocal about his feelings before, we wanted to know about the other men, who have been silent until now. How do they feel about the suit? Have you ever been tempted to take action against Donegan? What do they think is the right way for a man who believes he has been falsely accused of clearing his name? Most of them, we find, think that this suit is a terrible idea. But neither are they surprised that it is happening.
Here, five men who spoke on condition of anonymity respond to the demand in their own words.
"I've tried to clear my name individually, I would never join a lawsuit."
If the problem was that your reputation was affected, this is going to get worse infinitely. And that would be true for me if I joined him. If I were to become part of the public face of this thing. Like, why would he do that? Money? I have tried to clear my name individually, but I would never join a lawsuit. That would not help.
It's like Kavanaugh. Even if you think you did not, you know that the way your case was handled will have a chilling effect in all cases where it happened. In the same way, everything that involves locking up women seems much more harmful than beneficial.
I did not do what is accused of the list. But obviously I hurt someone to the point that they want to mess with my life. To this day I do not know what that was. I just think, the list is out there. I need to move. He is taking one for the team.
"I hate what Elliott is doing"
Sometimes I did mental exercises in my head or in a conversation: Is someone going to sue? And what happens then? But I would always dismiss it and now I realize that I was approaching that question with complete naivety: I assumed that some people would ignore their place on the list, pretend it had not happened or just try to leave it behind; that some people would do or were doing recovery work and amendments; and the real dangerous idiots would simply disappear into the hills. But that was fucking silly. And now, obviously, I'm not surprised that it occurs after the sudden reception of your garbage article.
I feel there's no way I can talk about this publicly without creating a mess for me or for the people in my life, but this is sadistic, reprehensible, cruel, and I'm sitting here, fucking annoying, and really wanting. There was something I could do to help Moira. Or at least have a different conversation about this crap. Look: the specific accusations about me on the list are not true. But I understand how I ended up with that, and I have amendments to make. But I hate what Elliott does. And the idea that Moira or any of the taxpayers may be more exposed, injured or damaged, makes me sick. And that's what drives me crazy when I can not talk about it publicly: I feel that if we all keep silent, it's as if he were speaking for us.
"I'm surprised it's taken so long"
I assumed that someone on that list would do something. That seemed inevitable. I guess I'm surprised that it took so long. I knew some of the guys on the list, some of whom had reasons to be, some who did not. After seeing the demand, I spoke with one person. We were like, great. This is in the news again.
Nobody with whom I have talked about had raised the idea of doing something. Most people accepted that this is something that is out there and that it will be used against us from time to time. I understood why the List was created. Why people felt it was necessary. I do not know why I'm there, exactly. But I'm not going to say that I've never crossed a line. I will not feel sorry for myself.
Why do I think he is doing this? Elliott exposed her motivations in Quilette's really bad thing. It sounds like a demand for the rights of men. I never really read it before, so maybe he was always on the verge of going to the MRA crowd. But now he has really embraced them. I do not think I have a case. And I do not think this is a case that I should push even if he had one.
"The list makes me sad."
A group of people I've known online for a long time learned about the list and they got quite upset, and after explaining the best I could and I picked up my bags, a couple was furious in Moira Donegan, and I had to talk down. It was A good idea (share information to protect people). I do not see the point of punishing someone for "bad opsec" or shit that got out of their control.
The suit seems so unlikely that it is a winner that the motive seems almost MUST be irrational, as if it is not about clearing his name but making his name dangerous to others. Even if you were completely exonerated, you can not put the toothpaste back in the tube. Social networks are already so vengeful and in such bad faith that the charges will last. Therefore, one wonders if the point is to cause Moira pain or to scare anyone who contributed to the list.
The list makes me sad. I think that working with words is that you end up believing that understanding is within your reach if you have the chance to tell your side of the story as best you can, even if it means saying you are a big jerk. and saying "I'm sorry" a million times.
"Anger is understandable"
I have no feeling of animosity towards Moira, and the entry next to my name is wrong. However, I do understand where your feelings come from. I mean, anger is understandable. If he has been accused of rape, he does not want the world to think he is accused of rape. But this is not the way I would have done this. The legal action always seemed so ridiculous to me because I wanted everything to disappear. Also, your case feels so ridiculous. Are you really going to find out who all the women were? Moira is really going to pay you $ 1.5 million?
This is not the way to amend anyone at this time. He is becoming the center of history, just as he did with his great essay. If there's one thing I've learned this year, it's that nobody needs to know anything about this. I can only listen