Stephen Elliott is the writer who is suing Moira Donegan over the “Shitty Media Men” list that she initiated last year.
On October 10, Elliott filed a lawsuit against Donegan asking for $1.5 million in damages, claiming that his inclusion on Donegan’s list, as well as the “[t]he wholly unsubstantiated allegations published in the List, particularly with regard to allegations about Plaintiff, contained numerous false statements alleging criminal sexual conduct on the part of Plaintiff.”
Elliott is a writer from New Orleans. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Elliott Was Described on the List as Having a Series of Alleged Misconduct Claims Against Him, Including ‘Attempted Rape’
Women buy most literary fiction, so I guess Stephen Elliot can make the argument that his career has been hurt by women not buying his books. But you'd think he'd understand that the way to get women to buy your books is to a) write well, and b) not be horrible to women.
— Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) October 11, 2018
According to the Shitty Media Men list, the claims against Elliott included: “Rape accusations, sexual harrassment, coercion, unsolicited invitations to his apartment, a dude who snuck into Binders???”
On the list, men accused of multiple instances of sexual violence by women were highlighted in red: Eliot’s name was in red.
2. Elliott Wrote an Op-Ed For Quillette Detailing the Ways in Which the List ‘Derailed’ His Life
Shitty media man sues creator of Shitty Media Men list https://t.co/FFmHb2PaS3 pic.twitter.com/3uwOMVIzdz
— Jezebel (@Jezebel) October 11, 2018
For Quillette, Elliott wrote ‘How An Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life’ in September, a month before he filed the lawsuit against Donegan.
I was shocked to find myself accused of rape. I don’t like intercourse, I don’t like penetrating people with objects, and I don’t like receiving oral sex. My entire sexuality is wrapped up in BDSM. Cross-dressing, bondage, masochism. I’m always the bottom. I’ve been in long romantic relationships with women without ever seeing them naked. Almost every time I’ve had intercourse during the past 10 years, it has been in the context of dominance/submission, often without my consent, and usually while I’m tied up or in a straitjacket and hood. I’ve never had sex with anyone who works in media.
I am not seeking to come out about my sexuality as a means of creating a diversion, as Kevin Spacey appeared to do when he was accused of sexual misconduct. I’ve always been open about my sexuality, and I have even written entire books on the topic. I’ve never raped anybody. I would even go one step further: There is no one in the world who believes that I raped them. Whoever added me to Donegan’s list, it was not someone with whom I’ve had sex.
Elliott claimed that he had trouble finding work in New York, and that although places in LA seemed less aware of the list, they would always eventually find out about it, and his television agent eventually stopped returning his calls.
3. Elliott Has Written Several Books, Most Recently a Book of Essays Titled ‘Sometimes I Think About It’
I opened the spreadsheet a year ago today, and I wrote this essay, the hardest thing I've ever written, a few months later. I still stand by it. https://t.co/wj8vkvawL4
— Moira Donegan (@MoiraDonegan) October 11, 2018
Elliott has written eight books, most recently a collection of essays titled ‘Sometimes I Think About It’. He has also founded The Rumpus, a literary magazine, and is currently at work on a web series titled ‘Driven.’
In his essay for Quillette, he admitted that he attempted several drafts prior to writing the final one. He wrote,
Three or four months after the list was published, I wrote the first draft of this essay. I was trying to get sober and I was going to meetings. I wanted to build bridges and make amends, and I wanted to find a way to create space for my accuser to come forward. But I didn’t want to pretend to believe that I was guilty of something if I didn’t actually believe it. Fake apologies don’t help anything: A fake apology is like sewing up a wound with garbage. Some of the apologies issued since the #MeToo movement began had been unconvincing. They read like statements made by a person trying to keep his job and salvage his reputation with an act of forced contrition. This has only made matters worse and further divided people.
In the first version of this essay, I tried to examine any possibly problematic erotic or romantic entanglements. I contacted ex-girlfriends, people I’d kissed, and people who had rejected me. I wrote about hanging out in the park with a volunteer from the web site I founded, The Rumpus, and laying my head in her lap. I wrote about a woman who thought I had cancelled an article about her book because she had rejected me (actually, it had been cancelled for violating rules about friends writing positive reviews of one another’s work). But, in the end, I realized that it’s simply impossible to respond to an anonymous accusation. You find yourself confessing to every sin you’ve ever committed, real or imagined. Meanwhile, your accuser doesn’t even have a name.
4. Elliott Argued That the ‘Shitty Media Men’ List Was a ‘Weapon’
Look… this Stephen Elliott lawsuit is mind blowing. It’s so terrible and disingenuous and dangerous. We already live in a world where women are not believed, where there is little recourse in the face of predation.
— roxane gay (@rgay) October 12, 2018
In his piece, Elliott argued that the “Shitty Media Men” list was a “weapon.”
He wrote, “Of course, the list was a weapon. It was a way of saying: do not associate with and do not hire these men. Freelancers named on the list could not have the benefit of a workplace investigation that might clear their name—they would just stop getting work. Their book sales would sink. They wouldn’t be able to teach classes, and they would stop receiving offers for speaking engagements. They’d lose relationships and opportunities and they’d have painful conversations with their families during which they’d have to tell their siblings, ‘I didn’t rape anyone.’”
5. A GoFundMe Has Been Set Up to Cover Donegan’s Legal Costs
I hope that every woman who ever had a bad experience with this man comes forward immediately. https://t.co/5FY3gcVof3
— Stella Bugbee (@stellabugbee) October 11, 2018
Already a GoFundMe has been set up to cover Donegan’s legal costs, and has already begun to trend a day into being established. With a goal of $500,000, the GoFundMe has already earned over $40,000.
The GoFundMe site reads,
“Moira Donegan did us all a huge favor. She made our world safer, and has paid more than her share. Now she’s going to need some help. This is for her legal and security bills and anything else she’ll need.
Any leftover funds will be donated to RAINN
I needed to do something. This is what I could do. I know a lot of you feel the same. More than anything, I want Moira to see the army she has behind her.”