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Harper’s reportedly plans to name harassment whistleblower—and the internet isn’t having it
One woman is offering to pay writers not to work for the publication.
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.
It’s come to my attention that a legacy print magazine is planning to publish a piece “outing” the woman who started the Shitty Media Men list. All I can say is: don’t. The risk of doxxing is high. It’s not the right thing to do.— Dayna Tortorici (@dtortorici) January 9, 2018
“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.
I doubt I’ll agree with Roiphe’s angle on SMM, but to be clear: I’m not interested in censoring or stopping Harpers from publishing Roiphe. I *am* interested in protecting the identity of the woman who started the List insofar as she does not want her name to be made public— Dayna Tortorici (@dtortorici) January 9, 2018
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.”
If you have a piece in the hopper over at @Harpers, ask your editor if the Roiphe piece is happening. If it is, I will pay you cash for what you’d lose by yanking it. My email is nicole dot cliffe at gmail.— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) January 9, 2018
If you want to yank quietly bc THIS FUCKIN INDUSTRY I will never reveal our transaction took place.— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) January 9, 2018
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.
(I have two takers so far, thank you so so much for standing up against this shitassery. Remember that cash the day you kill it is SO much easier than invoicing!)— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) January 9, 2018
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.
It just feels sinister and sick and disheartening, from a magazine I have looked up to since I was 16 and got my first subscription— Dayna Tortorici (@dtortorici) January 9, 2018
If Harper’s DOES kill it, you can keep the cash and run it or not, whatever you would like. My goal is still that Harper’s will change their mind, and I DO think that could still happen: they are losing ad buyers too.— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) January 9, 2018
If anyone thinks my opinion is important, then let me just add that @Harpers apparent decision to publish a cover outing the author of a spreadsheet — from a writer who has, for her entire career, demonstrated more sympathy to accused men than assaulted women — is horrifying— sonia saraiya (@soniasaraiya) January 9, 2018
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.
It's almost as if Katie Roiphe built a career on trying to undermine young women's efforts to protect one another https://t.co/xp4tF4hJHA— Katie McDonough (@kmcdonovgh) January 9, 2018
I hope the rumors are wrong, and I'll delete this if it is...but if the piece really is by Katie Roiphe, she should have to personally explain herself to every female journalist whose NYU tuition has paid her salary.— Judy Berman (@judyberman) January 9, 2018
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
We already went through this in the '90s, when Katie Roiphe and Camille Paglia and other anti-feminist feminists wrung their hands about the "New Victorianism" and "victimology." Literally everything in this piece has been said, almost verbatim. IT DOESN'T HELP.— Andi Zeisler (@andizeisler) January 5, 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 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.
Kris Seavers is the Evening Editor for the Daily Dot, where she covers breaking news, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.