There were plenty of ways men were outed as predators in 2017, a year that saw a floodgate open with women and men coming forward to share their experiences with sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. In journalism and publishing circles, five dozen men were named in an anonymous spreadsheet titled “SHITTY MEDIA MEN.” The Google doc spread over the course of less than a day in October, with women in media naming men who acted inappropriately in the workplace, before it was made private and essentially vanished after a BuzzFeed News article outed its existence.
Now, in what appears to be an attempt to blow the whistle on the whistleblower, Harper’s is reportedly planning to run a story naming the woman who started the list. The prospective article is alarming to media figures who worry about the potential consequences.
Dayna Tortorici, editor of n+1 magazine, tweeted Tuesday that “legacy print magazine” Harper’s is “planning to publish a piece ‘outing’ the woman who started the Shitty Media Men list” in March.
“All I can say is: don’t,” Tortorici wrote. “The risk of doxxing is high. It’s not the right thing to do.”
Tortorici and others reported that Katie Roiphe, a Harper’s contributor long known for her controversial takes on sex and women (including a book that victim-blames campus rape survivors), is the writer of the article set to out the list writer.
Writer and co-founder of the now-defunct blog the Toast, Nicole Cliffe, found the idea of outing a whistleblower (and one whose intent was to protect women) so concerning that she offered money to Harper’s writers who opt out of writing for the publication. Her plan was, as she put it, to leave Harper’s with an issue that will “consist of a now-toothless 200 word piece on the list that doesn’t name anyone and a long meditation from the editor on raw water.”
Cliffe tweeted that already two unnamed writers have taken her up on the offer for cash in exchange for pulling their articles from Harper’s.
In support, websites like the Establishment and Dame said they’d happily hear from writers who ditched Harper’s.
S/O to the incredible @Nicole_Cliffe and all the other writers, readers, editors, and pubs standing up to @Harpers and their hideous, horrifying, dangerous choice. As with @damemagazine, we'd be honored to run any pulled pieces/help signal-boost writers. https://t.co/rJAQPWUkGH— The Establishment (@ESTBLSHMNT) January 9, 2018
In the meantime, Tortorici, Cliffe, and many other writers continued to urge Harper’s not to run the article—or at least not name the list writer.
Feminists familiar with Roiphe’s work were not also surprised to hear she was the one writing the article and were quick to point out how her writing is often centered on dangerous talking points and has only moved feminism backward, not forward.
Katie Roiphe is like the monster in Stephen King's "It." She returns every few years so that she can feed on our feelings.— Tyler Coates (@tylercoates) January 9, 2018
Whatever you thought about the list—and there were many takes—writer Sarah Seltzer made a poignant reminder about its benefits: It was not only a warning about predators in the industry, but it also made many men whose names were not included rethink their past and future behaviors.
Think about how many guys who were not on the List maybe thought better about being dicks to their female colleagues these last few months.— Sarah Marian Seltzer (@sarahmseltzer) January 9, 2018
The entire conversation surrounding the planned Harper’s article has reminded us that despite all the work against sexual harassment and assault last year, there’s still plenty of work to be done in 2018 when it comes to believing and protecting women against shitty men—and shitty women, too.