Culture Wars, Feminism, Top Stories

How An Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life

In early October, 2017, following the emergence of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, a writer and activist living in Brooklyn named Moira Donegan created a Google Doc entitled “Shitty Media Men.” She sent it to female friends working in media and encouraged them to add to it and forward it on. The idea was to spread the word about predatory men in the business so that women would be forewarned. Anyone with access to the link could edit and add to the list. At the top of the spreadsheet were the following instructions: “Log out of gmail in order to edit anonymously, never name an accuser, never share the document with any men.” In the first column was this disclaimer: “This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt.” Nobody did.

The list had only been live for 12 hours when word reached Donegan that Buzzfeed were preparing to publish a story about it. She immediately closed it down. By that time, there were already 74 entries. The Buzzfeed article ran the following day. Other media outlets soon followed up on the story and, shortly thereafter, the list was weaponized by right-wing blogger and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. My entry reads: “Rape accusations, sexual harassment, coercion, unsolicited invitations to his apartment, a dude who snuck into Binders???”

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.

Even though I was living in Los Angeles at the time, I found out that I was on the list immediately. It didn’t take much effort to find a copy; although the list was closed, it had been downloaded and was circulating freely on Reddit and WordPress. It was mentioned in an opening monologue by Samantha Bee, it was the basis of an episode of The Good Fight on CBS, and stories were being published about it in The New Yorker, Slate and The New York Times. Even so, most people didn’t bother to look at the list itself, and so didn’t know who was actually named on it. At the same time, many people did.

A few months after the list became public, an editor friend called me. The New Yorker had fired Ryan Lizza, who had been named, so the list was in the news again and my friend had looked it up. Then my sister, who works in the medical industry in Chicago, contacted me. Her friend had brought it up casually at dinner and I had to tell my sister that I hadn’t raped anyone. “I believe you,” she said.

Graywolf Press published a collection of my essays in November 2017. The pre-publication reviews had been positive but the book was greeted with silence. It’s impossible to know how many publications would have covered the book had my name not been on that list. At least a few cancelled their planned coverage. The Paris Review decided not to run an interview they had already completed with me for their web site. I was disinvited from several events, including a panel at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. Someone even called a bookstore in New York where I was scheduled to do a reading and urged them to cancel their event.

Similar lists were started in the advertising industry, fashion world, Canadian literature, and, of course, academia. Every time a new list appeared, there was a new round of stories mentioning the original list. This month, almost a year later, the Shitty Media Men List is mentioned in dozens of articles written about Leslie Moonves as he leaves CBS under a cloud of accusations.

I wondered if it would be possible for me to work with someone who didn’t know about the rape accusation. In Hollywood, the answer seemed to be yes. People there were only vaguely aware of the list and very few of them had seen it. Nevertheless, if I sold a pilot I’d written, or enjoyed any other kind of success, the company involved would almost certainly be made aware of the allegations quickly. If somebody was prepared to make the effort to call a bookstore to try to prevent me from reading to 25 people in Brooklyn, what chance did I have of flying under the radar after a post in Deadline?

Then my television agent stopped returning my calls. Was this just business as usual, or had she found out about the list? I didn’t know. If she did know about the list, she certainly wouldn’t be sending me to any meetings. Hollywood doesn’t care if you’re innocent or guilty; they just don’t want to be anywhere near that kind of controversy. Friends who knew I had been named stopped inviting me out. I started to get depressed, because I was walking around with this awful secret. I’d look someone in the eye and I wouldn’t know what they knew about me. I couldn’t talk about what was happening without revealing that I had been accused of rape. For several months I didn’t leave the house. I started taking drugs again and tried to stop thinking about it as my savings dwindled. It seemed like an impossible riddle.

Being accused of sexual misconduct is extremely alienating. #MeToo was an expression of solidarity but there is no solidarity for the accused. We don’t talk to one another. We assume that if someone else has been accused, there must be a good reason. We’re afraid of guilt by association. We don’t want to be noticed so we lower our voices. Most of us stop posting on social media and stick to ever-dwindling circles of friends.

Someone I know tweeted that it was ironic that supposedly liberal guys keep saying they believe women, but they don’t believe the women who accused them. I’ve wondered about the meaning of “believe women.“ I had assumed it was intended to encourage people to take accusations seriously. Certainly, sexual assault is enormously under-reported. But an anonymous accusation is problematic. What does “believe women“ mean when it isn’t even clear that an anonymous accuser is a woman? Anyone—male or female—with access to the list could have added my name while it was online.

*     *     *

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.

The truth is, all of us have wronged someone at some point. At least I knew the rape accusation was false. But, about the other charges, I wasn’t sure. My entry mentioned that I was “a dude who snuck into Binders???” It turns out Binders Full of Women was a Facebook group for female and gender non-comforming writers. I’d never heard of it and I still don’t know who added me.  My list entry also specified “unsolicited invitations to his apartment.” Of course I had invited people to my apartment. And of course those invitations had been unsolicited—an invitation is, after all, an unsolicited offer. But they weren’t my employees. I haven’t employed many people in my lifetime. Nevertheless, maybe someone had felt that I had power over them and had exerted inappropriate pressure to get them to accept such an invitation. But who? And when? And under what circumstances? I had no idea. There’s a conversation to be had about appropriate behavior, and I would always prefer to make amends. But I don’t think it’s a good reason to accuse someone of misconduct on an anonymous list.

When the Shitty Media Men List was first released, nobody knew who had created it. Then, in the early months of 2018, it was announced Katie Roiphe was writing an article about the list for Harpers, and speculation was rife that she would name its creator. And so Moira Donegan outed herself to beat Roiphe to the punch. “The value of the spreadsheet,” she wrote, “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. It was intended specifically not to inflict consequences, not to be a weapon.”

A number of commentators have pointed out that most of the men named on the list have not faced any consequences. Christina Cauterici, writing for Slate, drew her readers’ attention to “the absence of definitive evidence that any wholly innocent men have as of yet been tarred or feathered.” But Moira’s statement is disingenuous and Cauterici’s article was intellectually dishonest. Just because you don’t know of any consequences, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any.

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.”

Someone told me I shouldn’t deny the accusations. They asked if I wanted to be on the wrong side of the issue. Someone else asked me if I believed in the #MeToo movement enough to take a bullet. Over the course of this year, I’ve come to believe that if a movement embraces anonymous lists and a presumption of guilt, it is already poisoned and not worth supporting. I support reporting harassment and abuse in pursuit of safer workplace environments, and I believe we should be supportive of those with the courage to come forward. But I don’t have common cause with people who believe innocent-until-proven-guilty is just a legal concept.

*     *     *

The original version of this essay was significantly more conciliatory. New York magazine agreed to run it. It would have been the perfect venue, since it was there that Moira Donegan’s essay justifying her creation of the list had appeared in January. I worked with the editor for a few weeks and then, just as I believed it was about to be published, they informed me that it wouldn’t run after all. It was then accepted by two senior editors at the Guardian, but the essay was spiked again, apparently after other editors revolted. I’ve never had an essay accepted somewhere and then rejected. Now it’s happened twice.

Through the editor at New York, I tried to contact Moira Donegan. I sent her a note asking if we could speak, at a place of her convenience, alone or in the presence of witnesses, either on or off the record—however she preferred. I wanted to ask her how I came to be on her list. Were there in fact two accusations that she had combined into “rape accusations”? Did she touch my entry as an editor, or even as a writer? Was she the one who highlighted my entry in red, one of 16 entries identified in this way to indicate supposed multiple accusations of rape or violent sexual assault? I did not receive a reply.

At which point, I decided not to publish the essay after all. I decided that I wouldn’t be able to handle the blowback. As I struggled with depression, I was seriously contemplating suicide (every first-hand account I’ve read of public shaming—and I’ve read more than my share—includes thoughts of suicide). Maybe, I thought, I could find work in a writer’s room for a television show and that would make things okay. But the chances that I could keep my inclusion on the list and the accusation of rape secret were, I decided, remote.

It wasn’t until almost a year after the list became public that I realized I wasn’t depressed anymore. I also realized that writing for television was not my life’s goal. I packed my things and moved to a cheaper city where I could work in a less public discipline. I would pursue writing for its own sake, just as I had before I started publishing books.

When Donegan acknowledged creating the list, she wrote that she knew it was unreliable but that it was meant to protect women. She tweeted (or retweeted) the claim that many of the men on the list were being found guilty. She acknowledged that the document was indeed vulnerable to false accusations and “sympathize(d) with the desire to be careful, even as all available information suggests that false allegations are rare.” (In fact, U.S. numbers suggest that at least 5% of rape allegations are false or baseless, a higher rate than other major crimes such as murder).

Of course, in some sense, Donegan didn’t have to worry, because no one is truly innocent. Even if you’re not guilty of the particular crime of which you stand accused, you’re likely to be guilty of something. It’s a Kafkaesque scenario. The accused can either refuse to engage, or try to maintain their specific innocence from a position of more general guilt. Either way, the trial is over before any defense can arrive.

 

Stephen Elliott is an author, editor, activist and film director. Follow him on Twitter: @S___Elliott 

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136 Comments

  1. Defenstrator says

    Perhaps it would help the healing process to start a new list, one that names women who make false accusations. Not to inflict any hurt to them of course, but to help men protect themselves. When the inevitable screeching starts over it simply tell them to believe men, and point out that not to is a sexist double standard and that they are bad people for complaining.

    • It’s been done, actually, some years ago: “Register Her” at A Voice for Men.

    • Max York says

      Victims of these scurrilous websites need to go on the warpath. As a lawyer, I can tell you that there is a remedy at law against both the publisher and the writer. Attempts to hide behind anonymity will not succeed. Victims of these publications can sue the publisher of the website, and once discovery begins, can obtain the identity of the writer. This is illustrated by the famous Hulk Hogan sex tape case.
      Here is a quotation from Wikipedia re that lawsuit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollea_v._Gawker
      “Bollea v. Gawker was a Florida lawsuit in which Terry Gene Bollea, known professionally as Hulk Hogan, sued Gawker Media, publisher of the Gawker website, and several Gawker employees and Gawker-affiliated entities,[2] for posting portions of a sex tape of Bollea with Heather Clem, at that time the wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge. Bollea’s claims included invasion of privacy, infringement of personality rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Prior to trial, Bollea’s lawyers said the privacy of many Americans was at stake while Gawker’s lawyers said that the case could hurt freedom of the press in the United States.[4][5]
      Bollea sought $100 million in damages.[6] In March 2016, the jury found Gawker Media liable and awarded Bollea $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.[7][8] Three months after the verdict, Gawker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and put itself up for sale.[9] Gawker Media’s assets were subsequently sold to Univision Communications, who announced that they were closing gawker.com.[10] On November 2, 2016, Gawker reached a $31 million settlement with Bollea.[11]”

      • Max York says

        I neglected to mention that a lawsuit for defamation may be brought in circumstances such as those described by the author of this article. In Hulk Hogan’s case, a defamation claim was not an option, because the sex tape was true.

        • Hunckle says

          Defamation lawsuits are not affordable unless you’re wealthy or have a wealthy benefactor. Most people cannot afford it.

  2. The “Binders Full of Women” Facebook group is the staging ground for take downs of men, a kind of secret tribal council. They are fearful of anyone being accepted into the group who won’t uphold the vow of secrecy, so it’s no surprise that just being suspected of joining the group under false pretenses would cause them (“them,” the mob) to lose their shit. I wish someone would infiltrate the group, investigate how they’ve managed to ruin lives; investigate the individuals in that group who spearhead the smear campaigns. It is extremely corrupt. Someone really should look into it. Flip that rock over and shine a bright light on what’s crawling underneath.

    • Publius says

      “I wish someone would infiltrate the group, investigate how they’ve managed to ruin lives; investigate the individuals in that group who spearhead the smear campaigns…”

      THIS SOUNDS LIKE A JOB FOR RONAN FARROW! 🤔

    • LOL. What a bunch of paranoid malarky. If you aren’t a member, you have no idea what happens in that group. Men are not discussed at all, by and large. It is a networking group for non-male writers to address the dismal publication numbers of female vs. male writers, and that’s all it is. And this response is why I wish Stephen Elliott hadn’t outed the group in his essay here, as he is causing real damage to a community of thousands that is doing important work. Unfortunately, he will probably experience more backlash due to that. .

      • ‘Non male’? Lol! You mean women? Last time I checked the overwhelming number of books coming out are written by women (or so my new releases emails from Amazon seem to indicate). Sadly most of them are embarrassingly awful.

        • Hi, yeah, try again. This is why women writers need to network to advance their careers: http://www.vidaweb.org/the-count/
          And if you have enough information to deem most books written by women embarrassingly awful, then it implies you are compulsively *reading* all the books being published by women, so not sure what that’s about…Meanwhile, let me guess how many books you’ve written.
          Go back to your MRA incel hidey hole where you can chatter with other entitled men about how totally unfair it is that more qualified women are coming for your jobs. Sorry that women don’t have time to think about you at all. They’re too busy getting college degrees, staying up late writing, networking, and working twice as hard to achieve things you feel entitled to for no reason other than your penis.

          • Martin28 says

            So men’s rights are bad, and women’s rights are good? How do you justify that philosophy? And calling someone an incel when you don’t know them (and even if you do) is disgusting. If your works have been rejected, Mia, it’s not because you don’t have a penis. It is probably because your mind is full of resentment and bitterness.

          • Vida recently released a statement dismissing Walt Whitman as a “bigot” and threatening to “burn to the ground” the establishment if they don’t bend to their demands. Most of the founding members of Vida resigned from the organization when Amy King and Lynn Melnick took it upon themselves to try to destroy the poet Thomas Sayers Ellis. Their “SaferLit” campaign is just another attempt for them to bully literary venues into accepting their bizarre, nebulous, double standards. Someone should expose them for what they are.

      • @Mia, I’m a writer and a woman, and I think your response is disingenous and morally obtuse. You do a thing many on the “left” do–you create a strawman, pretend the ‘other side’ is arguing it, and you are so convinced of your own moral righteousness, that you literally cannot hear a criticism, so convinced are you that you are morally pure.

        1. Just because women are unfairly treated in the literary world – this is what you mean, not the commercial world; commercial women writers are just fine – has NOTHING to do with the fact of this author’s experience. If you claim that the group is purely a ‘networkng’ group for women (I reject the term ‘non men’) what then are you saying? The author’s experiences are untrue? He is lying?

        2. “he is causing real damage to a community of thousands that is doing important work.” This is the one that gets to me. You read an entire essay of a man who is suffering and that’s your response–that the victim is causing ‘damage.’ Moreover, you then threaten him with ‘more backlash’ for speaking out. Disgusting.

        You sound exactly – and i mean exactly – like the male ‘pigs’ of old.

        • 1. What do you mean by “commercial”? I included a link to the VIDA count, which shows that there is a major imbalance between how many men and how many women are being published in magazines from Harper’s to the Atlantic and so forth, trade magazines. My point was that this is quite literally why Binders was created- to address that imbalance and provide a networking space for women in the industry to help one another. I am a member, and that is what it is. Are there women who are members who have divergent political ideas or women who hate men? Undoubtedly. But is that what is being discussed? Not from my experience. The vast bulk of the posts is literally just calls for submissions, sharing bylines, asking for advice, etc. As far as “the author’s experiences are untrue”, the person I was responding to has no experience with Binders at all, so his allegation that “The “Binders Full of Women” Facebook group is the staging ground for take downs of men, a kind of secret tribal council” is patently false and laughable.

          2. Yes, outing a group that is aimed at empowering women is going to upset the women who are helped by that group, and his explaining what the group is, generated EXACTLY the harmful attacks from misogynistic men here in the comments that illustrate my point, comments threatening to infiltrate a group which helps many many women and damaging the group. You know, it’s not a zero sum game. Stephen Elliott can have both valid points AND do some harmful things in his essay. And I didn’t threaten him with backlash. I stated that *unfortunately*, he would experience even more backlash for that decision- a plain fact. He is not going to gain any fans amongst women writers by exposing their networking group to misogynists, who, as shown in the comments above, make statements intending harm to that group. I am not sure why he felt the need to include those lines about Binders.

          I haven’t created any strawman. I have responded directly to the comments of men here who write some demonstrably false things, as well as just plain misogynistic BS, such as stating that “most” women’s books are “embarrassingly awful.” If you are a woman writer, as you claim, I am not sure how you can defend plainly misogynistic statements like that, as well as calls to harm a woman’s group. Those are the comments I was responding to.

          As to some other people’s comments- @Rachel Custer, I sympathize with your case. Yes, there are a handful of women (and men) in the writing community who go overboard with their extreme political correctness. I am not a fan at all and think it’s BS what happened to you. I also completely disagree with lists of anonymous accusations such as the one that Stephen found himself on. But the fact that a few women did that to you does not mean that a whole group of thousands of writers helping each other should be seen as synonymous with those women. I don’t know about the poet binders or who moderates that, but there is nothing like that that I have seen in the main binders.

          @Martin28- I am a successful writer with multiple books and top-tier publications. My works have not been rejected.

          @GG Whatever your beef is with VIDA, their statistics are valid and that is what I cited.

          Basically, what I see in these comments is only underscoring what I say- there are a lot of people wishing harm to groups that help women.

          • @Mia, I’m confused that you’re asking what I mean by ‘commercial.” You present yourself as a “successful writer with multiple books.” But your examples are not commercial. Atlantic pays, sure, but it’s not what I’d call commercial; surely you must know this? commercial fiction is a marketing term referring roughly to books that sell, e.g. Lisa Scottoline, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins etc etc etc. Many are women. Literary fiction is what you were referring to; in literary fiction I agree there has long been a bias against women (still is). There is also a bias against the lower classes, as many editors and agents are upper class women (as it is a traditionally poorly paying job that upper class highly educated women have done). I’m not saying anything that isn’t commonly known; I could be more specific but you get the gist I hope.

            As far as the group–I respect your own experience but I do think you are not being honest (not deliberately) about the subtext and text of the politics also embedded in the group. Just because a group ostensibly does one thing – networking – doesn’t mean it doesn’t do another thing (activism of a certain type). It’s very obvious when you’re not part of the activism. It’s sometimes not possible to tell where one ends and the other begins. But let’s say I joined and needed help, but openly disagreed on the #MeToo movement, let’s say, or openly criticized a leader of the movement. Would I get the help? If not, why not, since this is supposed to be group for writers helping other writers.

            I also think it’s not necessary for there to be a group for women to help women. I don’t see all women as my allies. Far from it. Upper class women are not my ally, just to name one example, whereas working class men are often my ally. Having a vagina doesn’t make someone my ally. I’d definitely like to see more lower class voices. But mostly I’d like to see freedom of art. I don’t see that in the literary world anymore. That’s appalling.

            But honestly, for years, women have been *harming* women. Look at editors and agents. There is no shortage of women. I’d say the majority are women. So something deeper is going on. I do think there is bias against women in literary work, but it’s not this single movement of men against women. Sometimes men are sexist. Yes. But sometimes women can be our own worst enemy.

            Your second point I don’t agree with on most levels.

        • Michael says

          Bravo on point two. Precisely my thought, Thanks for writing it. It seems to me to be a pretty high mark of a totally lack of willingness to be intellectually honest when, after reading an article about how a baseless accusation completely and irretrievably ruined a person’s career, someone comes along and complains that a REFERENCE the writer makes to an accusation THAT WAS MADE AGAINST HIM makes him to blame for “outing” said reference.

          For one, the contributor to the list made the group fair game for discussion, not the author of this piece. Your beef is with that anonymous person, Mia, not this author. But, as expected, no one can question an anonymous source, so you’ve found an innocent person to blame. An ironic shame, given it’s the entire context for this piece.

          And two, what a repugnant lack of empathy and display of myopia. The baseless list destroyed a career and your complaint is not about the actions of people who do this kind of thing under the pathetic guise of herd anonymity, your complaint is about some other little corner of the world that was (possibly) hurt by a (potentially) baseless accusation.

          The irony and intellectual paucity is so dizzying I can barely find the words to comment.

      • Rachel L Custer says

        Interestingly, Lyz Lenz at The Rumpus accepted an essay I wrote about my own experience with a man in the Christian publishing industry, then ghosted me. The same Binder women have “cancelled” The Rumpus for being “problematic” (that pathetic cry of our age), but they were probably behind my work getting killed, I’m guessing. When will we address problematic, bullying women in the lit industry? I know at least 20 women whose careers have been harmed by the Binders. I’m “problematic” because I’m conservative. They’re straight evil.

        • Martin28 says

          I’m sorry what you have gone through, Rachel. If they bully conservative women, what do they do to men, who are the oppressors? Oh yeah, anonymously accuse them of rape with no evidence.

        • This is very true. The pile on in Binders, at least the Australian one is awful, and there are some bullies in there that defy understanding. I left because of this behaviour. Not needed and counteracts any progress we have made as women.

          • Michael says

            It’s a shame you seem to be able to see a tragedy that occurs in your world when potentially unsubstantiated public remarks are made about it but you don’t have words for it here when it is the subject of the article.

            He main difference? This article isn’t among,out. The person writing it has the courage to attach his name to the conversation. His accusers don’t have the basic decency to do the same.

  3. Saddened says

    It’s really so sad and disheartening and frankly terrifying to read accounts like these. Because of what happened to you, Mr. Elliott, but also because as #metoo continues to overreach, it will ultimately damage the ability for women who have been hurt to speak out and be believed.

    Every lie we tell moves us closer to hell. And it won’t be the hell we think it will be.

    It will be worse.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Martin28 says

      I would like to thank the author as well. I wish there were a way to support people who go through this sort of digital character assassination. In effect, he was raped, but he doesn’t have anywhere to turn for support. Yes, I am comparing this to physical rape, and I think the psychological affects are similar.

  4. RichieRich says

    Someone else asked me if I believed in the #MeToo movement enough to take a bullet.

    Just wow.

    It was then accepted by two senior editors at the Guardian, but the essay was spiked again, apparently after other editors revolted.

    Quelle surprise.

    • Comparisons to USSR are sometimes overused, but “do you believe in Party enough to take a bullet” was one of standard moves NKVD made against arrested Party members during the Purges. Sure, comrade, you may be innocent, but releasing you would mean we’d have to publicly admit to being wrong. The state can’t afford such a blow to its credibility when it’s dealing with rapist white males, uh, Trotskyist-Fascist wrecker gangs I meant.

      Obviously #MeToo isn’t like NKVD. Yet it’s embracing anonymous accusations, the principle of guilty unless proven innocent, and apparently in some cases the idea that falsely accused should confess their guilt for the sake of movement. How much of the difference is due to principles and how much due to the fact that #MeToo is far less powerful?

  5. Amazing essay. I for one believe that the #metoo movement is just the beginning of a period where accusations themselves are enough. It’s only by shining a light on the darkness in it that we deal with the ramifications. Thank you for your part in that. I look forward to your journey from here. It’s clear that this isn’t going to beat you.

  6. “In fact, U.S. numbers suggest that at least 5% of rape allegations are false or baseless, a higher rate than other major crimes such as murder.”

    How does one falsely allege a murder?

    • The static means falsely accusing another of murder. Ala, John Doe is dead, and I say “I saw mighysprout do it/heard mightysprout talk about it”

    • ga gamba says

      Here’s an example, www(dot)cbsnews(dot)com/news/man-falsely-accused-of-murder-freed-after-13-years-behind-bars/. The fella was falsely accused and convicted. And it isn’t only men who are accused falsely, www(dot)huffingtonpost(dot)com/2015/04/01/falsely-accused-of-murder_n_6982798.html. Lucky for her she didn’t spend years incarcerated.

      Many factors contribute to wrongful convictions, and it is no different in capital cases. But the most recent data from the National Registry of Exonerations points to two factors as the most overwhelmingly prevalent causes of wrongful convictions in death penalty cases: official misconduct and perjury or false accusation. As of May 31, 2017, the Registry reports that official misconduct was a contributing factor in 571 of 836 homicide exonerations 68.3%, very often in combination with perjury or false accusation, which also was a contributing factor in 68.3% of homicide exonerations. According to the Registry, mistaken witness identification was present in nearly a quarter of homicide exonerations (203, 24.3%), as was false or misleading forensic evidence (194, 23.2%), and false or fabricated confessions were present in more than a fifth of the exonerations (182, 21.8%). The Registry lists inadequate legal representation at trial as a contributing factor in more than a quarter (218, 26.1%) of these wrongful homicide convictions. Source: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/causes-wrongful-convictions

      You know what’s amazing about your question? You could have answered it yourself, in less time than it took to type your comment too. So, either you’ve very new to the wonders of the internet or you thought you had a ‘gotcha’. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and welcome you to day one of your internet experience. Use it wisely.

      • peanut gallery says

        The main reason I’m against the death penalty. The beauty of our system is that it’s designed to protect the innocent over punishing the guilty. It doesn’t always work that way, people have forgotten how important this idea is.

    • Publius says

      “How does one falsely allege a murder?”

      You pretend to be a neighbor. You call the police and say:

      “OH MY GOD! THE GUY NEXT DOOR WAS ARGUING WITH HIS WIFE IN THE BACK YARD! HE WENT INTO THE HOUSE AND CAME BACK WITH A PISTOL AND SHOT HER! I JUST SAW IT! HE SCREAMED AT ME TO MIND MY OWN EFFING BUSINESS AND RAN BACK IN THE HOUSE! I CAN HEAR KIDS SCREAMING! WHAT DO I DO?”

      And the SWAT team comes … sometimes people get killed. It’s called “swatting.” Not frequent, but it happens every so often.

    • This statistic only means anything if we assume that 100% of rapes are reported.

      • Correct. Sadly we don’t know if it’s 105% or 650% of rapes that are reported.

        Perhaps we should compare the number that are shown to be false to the number that result in convictions if we want to see what proportion of the rest of them are false.. oooh look fancy that.

    • You could allege that somebody committed a murder when they didn’t? You could frame someone?

  7. Mr Elliott, I am sorry this happened to you and I am glad that you are no longer depressed. While I am moved that you can write (and publish!) a piece about an anonymous, unfounded accusation destroying your life so dispassionately; I wish you had put alittle more emotion into it. Tell us about what it is like to be considering suicide to get away from something you didn’t do. You say “Someone else asked me if I believed in the #MeToo movement enough to take a bullet.” I’d say you did.

    The person who ran a red light and slammed into my friend 2 months ago didn’t intend to hurt anyone, didn’t want to cause harm or have ‘bad intent’. They just had an important phone call and were distracted. Does anyone actually believe that they are not responsible for my friend needing back surgery because their “intent” wasn’t bad? because most of the time some runs a red light no one gets hurt?

    I say this because it hits close to home. A good friend of mine was falsely accused of sexual abuse of a child (3 year old). Probably the only thing worse than being a rapist in our society is being a child rapist. It was total bullshit. Mom got caught cheating on hubby, needed a distraction as they were already on the rocks, didn’t like her brother-in-law….. and he was very nearly destroyed. Ask a 3 year old the same question repeatedly, (like 50x) and eventually they will realize the correct answer is ‘yes’, even if it isn’t true. The prosecutors kept saying ‘better safe then sorry’ when asked why they were bringing a case that had no evidence, real time witnesses who denied the whole thing, and a biased accuser with a long history of lying. The prosecution dropped it the day before trial started, because they realized they didn’t have a case and couldn’t bully him into a plea deal.

    His parents spent 12 months and like $500,000 to keep him out of jail. His parents-in-law handled it very poorly, accused him of everything and begged their daughter to leave him. They were not there for the birth of his children. Even now, if I get a text asking “wanna take a walk” or “wanna get a beer” this is a drop everything and go get him out of the house because his in-laws are coming over and he can’t handle it. Needless to say his wife doesn’t talk to her sister. I admire his wife whole heatedly for standing by him. She knew the truth, and did the hard thing when push came to shove.

    Women are human, with all the intrinsic weaknesses and strengths. They make mistakes, get angry, lie, hold grudges, spread untrue rumors, take revenge. They also tell the truth, stand by the innocent when falsely accused, fight for justice, and forgive. I believe facts, not accusations.

    I also believe that you were silenced by both the guardian and the New Yorker because if you were allowed to publish then people who run cultural red lights can be held responsible. Right now they are saying ‘no blood; no foul’, while standing in a pool of blood they refuse to see. As long as you are quiet, they don’t have to look down.

    • @Alex Posch…thank you.
      Now I didn’t have to comment similarly.

      • @ Hamr,

        please do comment. The more stories like my friends that are told, the more society will have to deal with to consequences of false accusations and unjust actors.

        “We are to look upon it as more beneficial, that many guilty persons should escape unpunished, than one innocent person should suffer. The reason is, because it’s of more importance to community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in the world, that all of them cannot be punished; and many times they happen in such a manner, that it is not of much consequence to the public, whether they are punished or not. But when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, it is immaterial to me, whether I behave well or ill; for virtue itself, is no security. And if such a sentiment as this, should take place in the mind of the subject, there would be an end to all security what so ever.”

        – John Adams

  8. Kenneth Downs says

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope that the current hysteria will pass, as previous moral panics have. The MeToo Movement started, as all of these things do, with good intentions, but it has quickly devolved into a coercive and unjust movement.

  9. aunteater says

    I’ve been lied to by enough women to know that “believe women” as a default is seriously misguided. It’s like asking that everyone have Williams’ Syndrome, but selectively– only with women. That’s going to help us get by in a complicated world how? There’s no shortage of liars in the world, and (OMG!! SHOCK!!) some of them are women. Any female who’s been through public middle school knows how this operates: male bullies beat people up; female bullies destroy people’s reputations. There’s plenty of sociological research backing that up.

    Just this last year, I know of at least one woman making false accusations of sexual harassment: she had a live-in boyfriend (who was violent and a nasty piece of work) employed in a different department at the same company. Every time loverboy got in a spat with one of his coworkers (and this was not infrequent), she’d report the coworker for harassing her. What are the odds that every single man at the company who’d run afoul of her boyfriend for something totally unrelated to her, was also coming by her office to grope her?

    An automatic “believe women” approach to that situation would have resulted in four or five good men getting fired from the only decent-wage jobs that uneducated men can get in our county– with their reputations trashed. Men with families and kids. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. One of the woman’s (female) coworkers realized what was going on, documented everything, warned the boyfriend’s teammates not to have any contact with GF without witnesses, and made sure the higher-ups knew what was going on.

    It happens. Believe it.

  10. The LIgitigious Avenger says

    Stephen, have you contemplated talking to a lawyer who specializes in defamation lawsuits to see if you might have legal recourse? It sounds like you might have a case worth millions of dollars and that the woman who created and published the list could be subject to legal liability. A forensic investigation might also be able to determine who added your name to the list and that person might also be subject to legal liability.

      • Innominata says

        Because they are afraid of public judgement if they try to get justice for the crime against them. (Sound familiar?)

      • Because they are judgement proof. You could win in a court fight but it won’t solve anything. You’re unemployed because of this and would pay thousands if not hundreds of thousands in legal fees, and never recover a dime.

  11. Laura Wilson says

    Interesting that the writer is concerned about anonymous allegations. This is the man who tried to sleep with an MFA student during a campus visit; then, when rebuffed, he outed her gratuitously, by name, in the online magazine he edits, accusing her of being drunk when she rejected him. That’s not the behavior of a selfless seeker for justice; it ‘s the behavior of a self-satisfied jerk with little respect for others’ physical or reputational privacy. If he feels unfairly treated now, perhaps that’s the noise of justice being served. https://tinhouse.com/on-pandering/

    • Maybe I’m missing something. Based on the link you provided, he didn’t make an anonymous accusation, right? And he didn’t make a false accusation either, did he? He truthfully wrote that he tried to sleep in her bed and that she said no. I mean, it’s probably not the kind of thing *I* would write publicly about, but I don’t see how it either (a) makes him less believable, or (b) makes false rape allegations fair game.

      What am I missing?

      • Holy shit, I can’t believe I thought for a second there was some kind of poetic justice for some public shaming expedition of his own. You’ve got to be kidding me with that; it’s not remotely the same and doesn’t remotely mitigate his tragedy. Her complaints could largely be repeated about you, in fact.

        1) “student” … uh the overarching point is she wanted to be referred to as a writer on par with an alumni… but now, when you’re fishing for victim points, it’s student after all.
        2) “sleep with” She seemed to leave the possibility open he was legitimately seeking a comfier mattress and thought it ought to be as acceptable as with a gay friend. She also highlighted as problematic sexualization where he used such vague equivoque before clarifying it (as you did not).
        3) “outed her” I clicked the link to answer my ‘that sounds terrible, outed for what?’ instinct but apparently you are just misusing this word. You can be ‘outed’ for being gay, or doing something arguably illegal, or arguably immoral, or sexually personal, or fine in all of those ways but for something a person would plausibly keep as a tight secret. You can’t be outed for being a completely normal host who might have been the reason a visitor had a really great time (he couldn’t place his finger on why). If anything, agreeing to his request would’ve been behavior one might want secret. I’m chalking #3 up under “false accusation by Laura” on the board.
        4) “gratuitously, by name” Half-assedly, with a self-impugning joke, and she complained about how he *didn’t* mention her last name! Chalked.
        5) “in the online magazine he edits” In an email to those on a newsletter list. That she then quoted nearly all the relevant parts of (the blurb was about the bar trip, not on ‘the visit’ as a whole) and posted a picture of, with her full name at the top of her persistent internet article claiming to be the very same Claire. Chalked.
        6) “accusing her of being drunk” Not precisely, and it could also be read as *her* excusing why it appears inappropriate to share the bed after all. Half-chalked.

        What’s more interesting than your convoluted point (not about anonymous accusations in the end, was it?), is that in the comment section of an article about Stephen being falsely accused, the false accusations against him have just roughly doubled.

    • @nom_de_plum says

      @Laura Wilson:

      What you have written comes across as misleading to me. If I’m reading correctly (assuming the author is truthful about his sexuality):

      “This is a SEXUALLY ISOLATED man who tried to sleep NEXT TO an MFA student….”
      “…when rebuffed WENT AWAY AS TOLD and REFERRED to her by FIRST name…”
      “MADE UP her being drunk ….”
      Who doesn’t seem to pretend at being “a selfless seeker for justice” and seems to admit freely to being a “self-satisfied jerk” at times, as well as an addict, sexual deviant (in the clinical sense not the judgmental sense), and mentally ill.

      This doesn’t appear “justice being served.” This seems like you’re stalking him around the interweb styling yourself a one-woman sexual offender database, much like the Moira person who compiled that dodgy list. This seems like never-ending revenge, and nuke-for-a-cockroach overkill at that.

      I would say this sounds like

      “ACCUSE THEM ALL. LET GOD SORT THEM OUT.”

      No wonder so many blokes in the states are taking opioids. How exhausting.

    • Valeria says

      I read and reread the portion Stephen Elliot Comes to Town in your provided link and can’t for the life of me figure out how any reasonable person could arrive at your absurd interpretation not to mention your reprehensible and reckless comment here.

      • matahara says

        Agree with all of the comments.A lifelong radical feminist I am sickened by the rapid downward spiral of mindless self destruction in the name of polital correctness I witness every day that I open my laptop….

    • I was going to reply with a well considered answer after reading the article in the link you posted. I see no need, since so many others have covered most of the bases I intended to run.
      I must point out to you that you have just, “outed” Claire Watkins as one of two prime suspects in the false accusations against Elliot. You appear to be the second.

  12. ga gamba says

    I doubt Moira Donegan is protected from civil lawsuits by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act such as internet services including Google’s online documents application. Donegan even foresaw this spreadsheet could be abused and contain libelous information: “This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt.” As the creator and distributor of the spreadsheet, who urged the participants to keep it secret, it’s clear she understood the malicious consequences of it could be slanderous. This did not dissuade her. This demonstrates recklessness on her part.

    Defamation law in the United States inherently covers responsible communication protections since libel plaintiffs must prove that the defendant acted with either malice or reckless disregard for the truth.

    To successfully prove libel these four elements must be proved.
    * False assertion of fact: There must be a false assertion of fact about a person.

    Rape accusations, sexual harassment, coercion, unsolicited invitations to his apartment, a dude who snuck into Binders???” Mr Elliot will need to show these in bold, which are the most damaging to his reputation, are untrue.

    * Communication: Such false statement was unprivileged and communicated or published to a third-party.

    The spreadsheet was open to anonymous posters, i.e. everyone, therefore it’s unprivileged. Information of its existence, reading, and editing was not restricted to a privileged group. Further, Donegan instructed others how to maintain their anonymity to ensure the spreadsheet was seen and edited by as many people as possible. Moreover, the press learnt of the spreadsheet and by publishing it its defamatory info reached additional third parties. This info remains on news sites and may be found by an easy-to-perform name search conducted on a search engine.

    * Fault: There was fault on the part of the plaintiff, amounting to at least negligence.

    Donegan’s caveat recognised the recklessness of her adventure and her instructions were a way to evade responsibility by those who posted to it. This instruction and the distribution of the list demonstrate she encouraged others’ participation without taking care to avoid libel.

    * Damages: The statement or publication caused damage to the plaintiff or was ‘defamatory per se’ or ‘libelous per se’.

    Elliot would have to prove these damages. Fortunately (actually sadly), we now see enough evidence of publishers and editors being sacked, forced to quit, and retracting published articles of exonerated men such as Jian Ghomeshi that it can be argued this new environment has damaged Elliot’s professional opportunities.

    The question remains whether or not Elliott is a public figure. A public figure is a person of great public interest or fame, such as a politician, celebrity, or sports hero. A person may also be considered a “limited purpose” public figure by having thrust themselves to the forefront of particular public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved. Elliot did not thrust himself into this controversy; rather, the actions of others thrust him into it.

    I think it requires individuals such as Donegan being sued to put a stop to this. I doubt Donegan has deep pockets, so the potential financial reward to Elliot is minimal. We need to find lawyers who see these malicious acts as a threat to civil society and who will represent clients pro bono; or, hire lawyers by crowd sourcing their legal fees.

  13. funny how Stephen forgets how he was hounded out of his own magazine after it came to light that he pressured multiple women to get into bed with him and then painted them as drunks in his own little newsletter after they refused

  14. Publius says

    When the list came out, I wondered whether one of the accused would say publicly, “This is bananas! I’m (formerly) in-the-closet gay, have never dated women, and can produce a string of boyfriends!”

    Mr Elliott’s tale is adjacent.

    I can’t tell you how many men have told me in private that they are revolutionizing their approach toward women because they feel the risk has reached a tipping point here in the US. Formerly avid equal-opportunity male colleagues will no longer mentor women to avoid any possibility of disagreements or miscommunications turning into life-ending harassment allegations. They are always “too busy” now. They are going to great lengths not to work alongside women in circumstances that are one-on-one in any way, or to hire them for close-proximity work, if they can possibly avoid it.

    A number of my friends–really good guys in my experience–have sworn off dating American women as a group and date women from other countries now, who they feel are not caught up in ME2 psychosis. Several have recently married women from other countries. My cousin, after a string of shabby and bipolar treatment from American women, has started dating a woman from Brazil, and he’s … relaxed.

    I may follow suit. A thoroughly modern American woman I met for a date managed to refer to me casually as “the patriarchy” twice and to masculinity generally as “toxic” all in one sitting. I was raised by a mother with a law degree who taught me how to respect women, I promise you, and that characterization didn’t wash. I stood up from dinner and said, ‘I’m not ‘the patriarchy’ and I’m not toxic. My name is _____, and I’m an individual with a lot of care and decency I’m going to give to someone else” and left (but paid the bill, natch…).

    My brother recently married a stellar Filipino woman, and she introduced me to some of the women in her extended family. They were at once bright, educated, sweet, and treated me like I had some inherent value as a man beyond mugging in their Instagram shots, listening to how oppressed they were, and paying for stuff. I came away shell shocked: “So this is what it feels like when women really appreciate you…?” I felt like I could have said, “WENCH, MAKE ME A SAMMICH!” and they would have laughed and ignored me, not called Ronan Farrow and the peenie police to take me to a reeducation camp.

    I don’t speak for all, but I for one think the US and its sexual revolution, “feminism”, etc., have let our women down horribly. It’s heartbreaking to watch: I love the young women in my extended family, but honest truth, I would never want to date someone like any of them. Every one comes across as entitled, self-involved, prickly, adrift, self-exiled to social media, and lacking all mature feminine grace or common sense. It’s like they all got stuck at 13 years old, PRETENDING to be women but don’t know quite how.

    Well. I guess I had more to get off my chest than I realized. Thanks for listening… 😉

    • Peter from Oz says

      Publius

      A very good post. I get the feeling that many people in their 20s are now ”stuck at 13 years old.”
      I have some ideas about why this has happened, but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to hone them into an overarching theory. Some random notions:
      – The elevation of ”cool” over old fashioned
      – The abadonment of virtue in favour of power
      – The propensity to try to be different by being the same as all the other people who are different
      – A distorted sense of noblesse oblige and chivalry
      – Little knowledge of history and culture
      – Oikophobia
      – The wish to be a victim and star in one’s own life drama

    • Martin28 says

      I think everything has changed between men and women in the US. I’m single, widowed not too long ago, and many women have approached me and tried to date me or set me up with someone. I have no desire because I have zero trust.

    • sestamibi says

      This is all by design. The feminist project’s goals are identical to those of the Junior Anti-Sex League. No marriage (well, at least no opposite-sex marriage anyway), whatever babies to be born the result of “artsem” (lesbian turkey basters) or a handful of alpha males fathering the vast bulk of children, women to hold all positions of power, sexbots banned because they would provide large numbers of incel men with an outlet that must be denied in order to demonstrate feminist power.

      I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before some poor bastard who lost his job or got expelled from school because he asked the wrong girl out decides to exact revenge by terminating her with extreme prejudice.

      • Peter from Oz says

        sestambi
        I think you are being a wee bit too pessimistic.
        The number of feminists who actually believe in all that fascistic stuff, could probably counted on the fingers of a leper’s hand. No, the problem is more that the new cycle needs constant feeeding. So unthinking activists have to keep spouting rubbish and complaining so as to upkeep their livelihoods and prestige. They don’t have any real programme, just the constant need to say something a little more outrageous to get noticed. All we have to do is stop listening to them, or abusing each of their utterances as facile crap.

        • sestamibi says

          I hope you’re right, but I see little evidence to prove that. Things have gotten much worse over the years as feminists have consolidated their power. The US Senate now has 24 women members (although I will admit that several of them are conservative Republicans), compared to two during the Clarence Thomas days.

          When I was a young neocon back in the 70s I believed that average middle-class Americans would never buy into the excesses of the counterculture. Today I am convinced that there is no idea too looney for the same people to embrace in the name of being “enlightened” and “open-minded”: same-sex marriage, plastic straw bans, you name it.

          • Sestamibi: if you google the percentage of women (and men) identifying as feminist, it varies by country, but is well below 50% everywhere, I think. So that’s evidence.

            Many ideologies frame society as a zero-sum struggle between groups, and demonizes their outgroup – talking about “toxic masculinity” and “believing the women” is one example. But this is just a very vocal minority, most women realize that women are often horrible to each other too. Many women want men who are assertive and confident, and understand that if there’s going to be any interaction between sexes at all, there’s also going to be occasional unwanted invitations to see movies. Many women understand the unsafety men feel with the current climate where perceived slights from decades ago are being turned into accusations of sexual violence and harassment.

            So don’t go all incel about it, that’s just the reverse of radical feminism with women causing all the grief and men being the victims. Don’t form your opinion from Twitter shitstorms. Make friends among the non-feminist majority of women, and talk about these issues. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    • Lol ok, go find a filipino woman to date then. I’m sure American women will get over such a tremendous loss.

      • sestamibi says

        @ketil
        Married 21 years, so the incel part is inoperative. And yes, I’ve know all about NAWALT, but there are huge numbers of women who don’t identify as feminists but certainly are free-riding on feminist victories.

        The bottom line is this: either men rule or women rule, and we are seeing what happens under the latter. When it becomes a matter of public policy that women are given preference for all top-paying jobs, and when it becomes a matter of public policy to criminalize the efforts of us beta males to gain their attention, then desperate men will resort to desperate measures.

        • I remember the days when the idea was, “we all can rule together.”
          The liberal infection of sexuality into politics, is born on the back of adolescent insecurity, extended and given victim hood status by academic socialist and postmodernist thinking.

          Most frightening of all, is a collective that never examines the ethics of the group, rarely defines the attainment of principles as goals, and believes the evil actions of a few within a separate group is enough to smear the lives of all. Such a political methodology has been used before. It is a technique used by Fascist and Communist alike.

          What is felt has now as much validity as what is fact. What an individual’s sexual preferences are, no longer a tile in the mosaic of each personality. Intersectionality, has seen to it individuals are no longer complex and interesting compositions of differing characteristics.
          Now, each of us is a tile and only a tile, in the amorphous two dimensional face of the collective infant. It is a baby led by a political parent who seeks to keep it from ever growing up, but always seeks to make it fatter and more sickly, contained within useful boundaries of a massive linguistic diaper that cradles hatred-born crap of insecurity and lack of individual identity or responsibility. It is the parent of a monstrous sociopolitical abstraction. It is a horrific parent, to be sure, but a parent nonetheless.

    • @Publius.,Great comment!
      My woman (and yes, I am her man) is filipina.
      I have adopted her daughter as my own.
      We love and respect each other.
      Men are men, and women are women.
      She is Catholic, i am athiest, our daughter goes to Catholic school and I do attend (occasionally) Catholic church.
      I am raising her to be a centrist conservative.
      Life is (can be) good.

    • @Publius, You need to widen your social circles. There are plenty of conservative,libertarian, and non-crazy women out there. You will only find this brand of crazy in the liberal intellectual class, the liberal upper class and San Francisco (sort of said tongue in cheek). It may seem from Twitter that this is a mass movement of women but it’s NOT. I would say the majority of women of any age think this hatred of men and the bugaboo the ‘patriarchy” is either bizarre and insane, or else they haven’t really heard of it.

      And btw as a woman, I’ve seen this crazy from men, mostly in the form of “If you voted for Trump you are an evil racist and don’t even think of dating me or even speaking to me.”

    • CQ Cowels says

      I am 75. I totally understand your concerns about Western women. So sorry.

  15. If I were you, I’d sue Moira Donegan for libel, lost earnings, denial of due process etc etc in every jurisdiction in which she has a tangible asset. If it is true that you have been falsely accused of rape then you have been libelled. Take off the gloves and litigate to clear your name. Go hard… I don’t think you’d have much trouble croudsourcing a war chest (as James Damore did). These self-appointed, self-righteous social media witch-hunters need to be put on the stand and made to justify themselves in court. They need to put up hard evidence and sworn statements not anonymous scuttlebutt. Social media is no substitute for justice and due process. We need to punish vigilantes, not moan about them.

    • Mark Tushin says

      That’s not anonymous at all. She’s got the receipts, she’s using her name, and she has nothing to gain by naming herself. I’d say the onus is on Elliot to respond

      • She needs to provide more evidence than her ranting Twitter whining before Elliott needs to do *anything*. The concept of innocence until proven guilty requires her to present something of substance, rather than (as always with these idiots) vague accusations and screenshots of email correspondence that shows nothing of note, let alone evidence of rape or another sex crime worthy of destroying Elliott’s career.

        Frankly, I’ll be happy for #metoo to fail given the vindictiveness and wilful blindness of its supporters.

      • The only evidence she provides there is a screenshot of her own accusation. A self citation.
        She has everything to gain and nothing to loose.

      • I read that whole Twitter screed, including the one about how she “cancelled” her husband. I don’t see anything of substance there. In fact, Elliot sounds quite reasonable n the “smoking gun” emails. Where’s the beef?

    • Reader says

      Yeah I agree, this deserves a response – for those who didn’t click, she says he excessively hounded her for sex, groped her, and that it was far from an isolated incident. Only ‘receipt’ she’s posted was an offer for an unpaid internship, but she says she has more and to come at her.

      If Elliott’s motive was to clear his name, this deserves a response.

      (also this is apparently a nazi site, but it’s a Twitter user in the modern online content industry, so I can handicap for that kind of stupid)

      • Reader says

        i think that’s called hyperbole, but i handicap for your kind of stupid!

        • Reader (OG) says

          I’ll meet you halfway and say I HOPE it’s hyperbole for everyone’s sake. 😉

      • @Reader, you hounded me constantly for sex, groped me on the elevator, and I heard from all my friends that you’d been doing this for years. Once when I was drunk, you pushed my shirt up and took a photo. I have the photo but I don’t want to show it, it’s too traumatic.

        Go ahead: This deserves a response. Explain why you are not guilty.

        • @d: I disagree. Lynl is quite specific, I’d like to hear the response. Which might be “I have no idea who this person is”, but as it stands, the allegations (of being invited to see a movie and do intern work) sound credible and verifiable, and therefore worthy of reply.

    • interesting twitter thread.

      She alleges inviting her to his apartment improperly and repeating the invite after she demurred.

      This is far from rape. And he concedes in the piece above that he might have crossed the line at a time at inviting in less than utmost propriety.

      The grayness of lines is a central part of the discussion here.

      He was ruined for alleged rape etc. not for inviting a co worker to his room twice. (or thrice)

  16. ASmallBird says

    Imagine having the audacity to write something this stupid when you’ve been known to harass women. I mean the cognitive dissonance is outrageous.

    • Martin28 says

      So some vague accusation of harassment deserves an anonymous charge of rape and the destruction of life and reputation? Got it.

  17. quille surprise says

    ” They are going to great lengths not to hire [women] for close-proximity work, if they can possibly avoid it.”

    that’s called employment discrimination and is a civil rights violation so i sort of think just not commenting on women’s appearances would be a better place to start?

    • You’re right about employment discrimination, so these people are just substituting one risk for another. But your second comment sort of makes it seem like you aren’t really understanding the original risk/concern these people are worried about.

    • Martin28 says

      So men are not allowed to comment on women’s appearance? But women can comment on other women’s appearance, and men’s appearance. What’s next? Men can’t look at a women? Even if, especially if, their boobs are hanging out? “Yes, miz. Sho’ nuff, Miz. Can I hep you, Miz? Please don’t shame me on Twitter, Miz.”

      • The nastiest comments and slut-shaming comments I’ve heard always come from women.

  18. Moira Donegan needs to be sued and ruined. Certainly drummed out of journalism. Hate speech is not protected speech. Publishing that someone is a rapist without anything to back it up is like shouting fire in a crowded church so people get tramped to death in a stampede. It’s beyond irresponsible. It’s knowingly causing others harm.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Hate speech is a stupid term which only schoolchildren should use. Why not use the good old English word ”insult”?
      Insults are protected speech.
      The only kind of speech that is not protected is speech that is connected with behaviour and designed to cause physical or reputational harm.
      Defmation and incitement are thus not protected, because they are deeds and not just speech.
      Yelling fire in a crowded cinema will also be protected speech, unless it can be shown that the speaker meant to cause harm or unnecessary fear. Of course if there is a fire, then the speaker should get a medal.

    • Martin28 says

      I’d like to see a group of men from this list sue both Donegan and Buzzfeed. There is one way for rape to be adjudicated, and that is by going to the police. Anonymous accusations, Twitter attacks, public shaming using the tools of the Internet, have got to stop.

  19. Hey, Publius,
    I’m with you man. It seems to be the zeitgeist that many (not all) women can be anonymously malicious and go unpunished for the lies they tell. The most absurd allegations are accepted without bothering to present any evidence, and without evidence, allegations cannot be refuted. If you go to law, the fees will impoverish you, so even if you win, you lose. “False witness” is deemed a sin in the Christian book. That it is not a crime is probably because investigation would be like fencing with shadows. Your only defence is to shun them all. Take your gift elsewhere and be happy. I will not recount my own experiences because just thinking about them knots me up.

  20. And furthermore, in Australia, 25 per cent of paternity cases have found the woman lied about who was the father of her child. ( it was a grudge baby – somebody had it in for him).

  21. Peter from Oz says

    I suggest that anyone trying to understand this modern penchant for shaming people on PC grounds should read J.P. Kenyon’s little book on the Popish Plot. This plot was completely fabricated by Titus Oates and a few others, but led to mass hysteria in Britain in the 1670s, and the execution of many innocent people.
    In essence, Oates claimed that he had evidence of a plot by catholics to kill King Charles II and start a catholic revolution by bringing James II to the throne. Unscrupulous politicians on the left, then used this ”plot” as an excuse to try and exclude James from the succession.
    Kenyon shows how all these elements created an atmosphere of mendacity and moral panic in Britain for several years. The same would appear to be happening now.

  22. Robert Hadley says

    I am sorry to sound as if I am blaming the victim, but Mr. Elliott needs to be a lot tougher in every way. When I read that he was considering admitting to the phony accusation as a tactic, I almost fell off my chair.

  23. I say to hell with the mewing Stephen Elliot and to hell with all his former friends at The Rumpus. These people with their petty power struggles, sexual perversions and party-line radicalism epitomize the decadence of our intellectuals and our age.

  24. The evil of anonymous allegations has been shown over and over and over. Ryan Lizza? Keillor? Some of Franken’s witchey beeches.

    In other cases, there are possible ulterior motives. The shortstop of the Cubs has been taken out by an allegation of inappropriate behavior by an ex. The cubs are in a high roll. Did she put money (legal now) on the Brewers?

  25. It’s this sort of unsubstantiated shaming and career destruction that will lead to #metoo collapsing in a pathetic heap of bullying zealotry, and with it any meaningful efforts to reduce sexual assault or provide assistance to the true victims of these crimes. It’s simply disgusting.

    I see some of Elliott’s accusers leaping into the fray on Twitter with nothing but vague accusations and bile, triumphantly claiming that he’s ‘played himself’. Well, when the inevitable backlash comes and real victims of sex crimes are ignored along with the false accusations, it’ll be them who’ve played themselves. Unfortunately, given the consequences for those who aren’t narcissistic, hack ‘creatives’ making up lies, I won’t be jubilant over such a negative outcome.

  26. First, falsely accused all fiscal conservatives of being Racist for disagreeing with President Obama’s policies — but I said nothing.

    Next, they falsely accused all non-Hillary voters of being Nazis — but I said nothing.

    Now they falsely accuse me of being a Rapist — but there is nobody left to speak up for me.

    This is just a continuation of the playbook that began in 2007 when President Obama ran for office with little substance, just a High School Student Counsel-style pledge of “Change.” By saying “not Bush” or “if you don’t vote for Him it is only because you are racist and he is black” they discovered they could silence dissent. Turn to 2016, they tried it again with the anti-woman card painfully twisting what was said in the Access Hollywood tape from a hyperbolic boast about golddiggers into an admission of sexual assault? They are scream Nazi to deplatform, they scream rapist to silence and deplatform — there are no consequences. Nov 2016, the days after the election you saw endless news reports about Hate crimes and intimidation — 2 years later, there are an equal number of now buried news reports of those reports being false, but the accusers and reporters are not held accountable.

    The only difference between the author’s case and Kavanaugh is that (and one reason the balking about testifying in Congress) once they go under oath to proclaim their charge and it is found false, they are exposed to the same outcome as Susan Shannon of Everett, WA who falsely accused Col. David Riggins of sexual assault at West Point and the jury ordered her to pay him MILLIONS since it ended his Army career in one of the largest (if not THE largest) individual v individual defamation awards.

  27. Bored Now says

    Good lord I hope no-one PAID him for this self-pitying drivel, much less by the word.

  28. Stephen, I’ve known you a long time though not very well, I like you and consider you a pleasant distant colleague. But I’ve definitely watched you behave in ways with women that weren’t respectful of boundaries, and were sexually pushy beyond simply extending invitations for sex. It seems highly unlikely to me that you raped anyone (although not for the preposterous reason listed in your essay that you don’t like penetration- what a dangerously and deliberately ignorant understanding of what rape is). But you are a man who needs to deeply investigate and improve how he behaves around women he’s attracted to. At your age and with the response various women have had to you over the years, this shouldn’t come as a shock or a threat but an opportunity for self improvement. Like getting sober. We all have shit we need to take care of.

    I don’t believe in anonymous accusations, especially if the accuser in question is expecting some kind of consequence. At the same time, in a week where the accuser of a future Supreme Court Justice has been receiving death threats, and a white man who raped and attempted to murder a native woman in Alaska has been ‘given a pass’ so it won’t ruin his life…I completely understand why assault or harassment victims might seek out alternative forms of justice like this list. There is a tension between the reality of the overwhelmingly horrible treatment of victims who report (not to mention the depressingly low number of convictions after a report) and the right of people who are accused to be able to respond to an accuser. There isn’t a perfect answer, and I am going to be thoroughly un-2018 and comfortably admit that I DON’T KNOW what the solution is right now.

    What I DO know is that your essay was disappointingly silent on this reality, on the experience of accusers. I was truly disappointed by your childish, unnuanced, self-pitying piece. Who you’ve attracted in the article’s comments section as supporters should reveal to you what kind of bullshit is at the heart of what you’ve said- MRA and incel assholes who decry feminism, defend Trump, and make comments that we will deserve it if we’re murdered! “I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before some poor bastard who lost his job or got expelled from school because he asked the wrong girl out decides to exact revenge by terminating her with extreme prejudice.” Wow, Stephen.

    I’m sorry you got accused of rape if you didn’t do it. I’m also sorry you don’t seem to have taken the year to get your behavior and thinking right. What a tone deaf week/year/decade to release a piece like this.

    • Declan says

      “Who you’ve attracted in the article’s comments section as supporters should reveal to you what kind of bullshit is at the heart of what you’ve said- MRA and incel assholes who decry feminism, defend Trump, and make comments that we will deserve it if we’re murdered!”

      Are you talking about the commenters on this article or some other article?

    • This essentially amounts to victim blaming though. If what Elliot says is true, he is a victim of false accusations and possibly libel. It doesn’t really matter if he “behave[d] in ways with women that weren’t respectful of boundaries” or was “sexually pushy.” Both of these behaviours are a far, far cry from rape. To say that Mr. Elliot should buck up, reflect on his behaviours, “take care of” his “shit” etc. is quite similar to saying that the rape victim shouldn’t be all that shocked because of the clothes she was wearing, the bar she was hanging out in, the company she was keeping and so on. I really don’t see much difference – one should never lead to the other.

      Mr. Elliot may have character flaws but that doesn’t justify the ruination of his career. Or come out and say what you really mean, which is that these flaws do merit that result.

      • “Mr. Elliot may have character flaws but that doesn’t justify the ruination of his career. Or come out and say what you really mean, which is that these flaws do merit that result.”

        Tara calls the false rape allegations “alternative forms of justice” (as opposed to, say, “revenge”), so yes, I think this is what she (or he?) says.

    • Get off your high horse. What does supporting Trump have to do with anything? Most of the public perverts caught in the me too movement net has been democrats or progressives. Are you going to deny that? You have no clue that anyone here is MRA or Incel, This is not the place people like you would enjoy so why come here? This is for classical liberals and free thinkers of all political stripes not drones.

  29. A. Man says

    “But I’ve definitely watched you behave in ways with women that weren’t respectful of boundaries, and were sexually pushy beyond simply extending invitations for sex.”

    Your comment is interesting. Can you elaborate?

    If Mr. Elliott has as little self-awareness as you seem to indicate, perhaps a more thorough explanation of his behavior (or how his behavior might be perceived) would be helpful/enlightening.

  30. An interesting article and one I found to be a great read; well done to the author in showing what unsubstantiated claims can do to another human being. Such a shame about 90% of the comments in the section below but ain’t that the way. Men defending / women condemning – such obvious angles for all to take in 2018.
    I don’t know enough of the case to have serious opinion but one thing I do know is that the only useful ‘list’ is a shopping list.

  31. Real Liberal says

    The unfortunate thing is that when the people making these accusations are known to believe things like asking a women out is “literally sexual assault” or when they render the definitions of things like “rape,” “sexism,” “racism,” etc. to be so vague they are meaningless for all practical purposes, or are prone to hyperbole and overreaction in the face of good-natured disagreement, then it really is difficult to take their accusations seriously. Was this person really raped or is it just another case of “the LITERAL violence of erasure of marginilized identities due to the suppression and pathologizing of the lived experiences of those who resist toxic masculinity and white supremacy,” or some other incoherent, ridiculous, trendy intersectional buzzword soup?

    Are you people aware that you severely hurt your own cause with the outlandish, over-the-top rhetoric?

  32. Although unrelated, I had a personal friend of mine falsely accused of rape last semester. I’ve known him since grade school, and he was never sexually aggressive to women. In fact he was always a little intimidated by them. The night that our group of friends were all drinking together this drunk freshman was basically throwing herself at him. They made out a few times then went back to HER dorm room together. According to her she remembers “nothing” from the entire night and woke up sore from sex. According to my friend (who was also intoxicated) she started taking her clothes off as soon as they walked through the door. They had sex, and took a shower together after the fact. We were still up when he got back to his dorm after putting her to bed and heard the story first hand. Now some might try to say that he is still guilty of rape because she was intoxicated, but so was he. The fact of the matter is she got drunk, hooked up with a guy that she didn’t know, and decided to cry wolf after waking up with a hangover full of regret. If he raped her because she was intoxicated then she also raped him. He was kicked out of school, he is still going through trial, and although it looks like the charges will get dropped his life and reputation have been completely destroyed. Rape is rape. Drunk sex is drunk sex. The fact that this accusation has even gone this far is due to this victim mentality the feminism has been preaching. She wasn’t raped, she made a drunk mistake. Now she is ruining someone’s life for it. Sorry for the pour grammar, I am writing this as I am falling asleep. @OP just know that you are not alone, and their are so many people willing to stand up for you. I wish you the best of luck in finding a new normal to return to in life.

  33. I just read all of these comments. I found it very depressing. It’s apparent from reading them that there are a lot of women who don’t like or trust men, and a lot of men who don’t like or trust women.
    It just strikes me as sad.

    I’m so happy that I’m old, happily married, and don’t have to deal with this all this bad feeling in my life.

    I’m also happy that my daughters are happily married to good men who respect them. And I’m happy that both have good jobs because of feminism.

    There’s much to be thankful for.

  34. Elliot has written a brave and thoughtful essay here, and I for one believe him and support him. I think what happened to him should scare us all: in a culture that legitimizes anonymous accusations of this kind, no one is safe. Look at Lyz Lenz’s vague hints of dire misdeeds which she “proves” by posting an email that Elliot wrote her–an email which, it turns out, is nothing but gracious, friendly, and kind. He asks if she’d be interested in helping him with a writing project, though he can’t pay her. She characterizes this as trying to wrest unpaid labor out of her–and by implication she conflates it with rape. What a ghastly trivializing of rape. What should worry us about the culture of anonymous shaming is that it threatens to sabotage the #metoo movement itself, by making it easier to cast doubt on legitimate complaints. Yes, lots of rapes go unreported; and yes some accusations of rape are false. So what? Neither of those true facts makes it okay to shame someone anonymously without evidence, without accountability, and without leaving the accused any avenue to defend themselves. Worst of all, it gives disinterested observers no way to judge whether the accusations are true or false. Donegan’s list blurs the difference between true and false and leaves people doing nothing but shouting about which side they’re on and who they hate.

  35. I remember my old man saying, son, your best bet is to find a good woman at church, marry her, and never touch nor look at another woman so long as you both may live. Other people will say otherwise, but son, the old ways existed for a long time and for good reasons. It’ll save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

    Ever since then, I’ve followed the Billy Graham rule to a T. No private correspondence with other women, and no meetings with women without my secretary being in attendance. I have been considered a hopeless square and an old fogey for most of my working life. Now, suddenly the Billy Graham rule has become fashionable again. Universities are talking about requiring people to have their consent to sex independently corroborated beforehand in the presence of witnesses. Sort of like a marriage, when you think about it.

    I went to Japan recently and the trains there have a “pink carriage” exclusively reserved for women, to keep them safe from prowling men. I’ve always thought that gender segregation was a worthwhile tool, and its good to see that its coming back. Like my old man said, the old ways existed for a reason.

  36. Pingback: Kavanaugh is the Face of American Male Rage – Reacle

  37. Peri Dwyer Worrell says

    How many millions of women have had their lives much more seriously derailed by anonymous allegations of sexual intercourse (or prostitution) with men they’ve never touched, or sometimes even met? Been stalked after having their names and numbers anonymously posted on mens’ room walls? Teenage girls learn early that you don’t respond to these type of slurs. We learn early that we can’t let them depress us, because then the bastards win.

    And we also know that penetration is not required for rape/sexual assault/sexual abuse/sexual harassment to have occurred, a fact that a huge plurality of men seem to be completely unclear about.

    • Declan says

      “How many millions of women have had their lives much more seriously derailed by anonymous allegations of sexual intercourse (or prostitution) with men they’ve never touched, or sometimes even met? Been stalked after having their names and numbers anonymously posted on mens’ room walls? Teenage girls learn early that you don’t respond to these type of slurs. We learn early that we can’t let them depress us, because then the bastards win.”

      That may be, but what does it have to do wth the article at hand?

      “And we also know that penetration is not required for rape/sexual assault/sexual abuse/sexual harassment to have occurred, a fact that a huge plurality of men seem to be completely unclear about.”

      The legal definition of rape is predicated on penetration and carried out without consent. This is the definition from the DoJ. “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

      What other definition of rape is there?

  38. For What It's Worth says

    I know Stephen, and at least two other instances of accusations on that list that were fabricated out of a revenge motive. Further, I have heard that men of color are disproportionately represented on the list. I have not verified this myself, but it was a woman of color deeply enmeshed in New York media circles who told me (she was uncomfortable stating this publicly for the predictable reasons). This strikes me as deserving further investigation as, historically speaking, false accusations in America have often been directed at men of color by white women. (There are also some out and out shitheads on the list. I’m by no means calling this a simple issue.)

  39. If you know Stephen was put on that list out of revenge I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. Send him a note on twitter or through his website. He should sue her.

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  41. I agree that Elliot should sue, but there is a cost to suing that is not just financial. There will be many months /years during which he will have to relive the past, relive his depression and despair for lawyers and courts, wait for hearings that get put off, and so on. It is bloody stressful, and cost a period when you cannot get on with your life.

    p.s. When I was young, getting asked out more than once by horny guys was not harassment. It indicated I was attractive. Lots of times I was offered a second or third drink. Refusing had nothing to do with the characters of the men. It had to do with my character. Since when does getting drunk at a party absolve a women of all responsibility for what happens.

  42. An Observer of Unsocial Media. says

    Life has all but lost it’s luster these days because of ‘unsocial media’. Who ever thought that letting everyone have their say, and anonymously no less, could turn out well? It has turned into an almost perfect weapon. And how much evidence do you need that men are being beaten up by western women to the point they are fed up and running the other way in horror?

    Divorce, denial of access to their children leading to lonliness, suicides and homelessness – such a deal. Yet the tide against men just gets stronger and more vituperative every day. Thanks social media. Women truly are the stronger sex to be able to put up with their bullying tactics against each other (70% of women report bullying in the workplace by other women). And it looks like they better get used to it. Men just are not armed for this deluge of female abuse from hordes of angry women, for things they didn’t personally do. Oh and men still do all the dirty dangerous jobs and don’t hear too many thank you’s. Maybe it’s time to just take it down a notch!?! Just sayin…

  43. While no where near as serious I feel your pain. I have almost stopped using all forms of social media and rarely talk about my true views with all but close friends I can trust. I stopped when on a simple disagreement online had me labeled as a nazi, racist, misogynist and number of other names by people I had once been close to. For a few days it ate away at me, I was wondering what I had said exactly to cause such a reaction. As much as I don’t want to be quiet and hide, I simply don’t want to compromise my job or life from one incorrect allegation.

  44. Cristophe C. says

    I read Elliott’s article as well as the links some of his most ardent detractors embedded in their comments (https://tinhouse.com/on-pandering/ and Lyz Lenz’s twitter rant). All I can say is women are complicated.

    Here’s a modest proposal: maybe guys should leave women for the purpose of procreation and consider finding their inner bisexual and having recreational sex with other guys. It would be a very ancient Greco-Roman approach. Manhattan, for instance, is an island with thousands of gay men, many of whom would more than gladly help a straight or bi friend blow off some sexual steam. For most, it would be a turn on, and it is unlikely there would be talk of harrassment, rape, coercion, etc. Certainly there would be no public shaming.

    Sex between men is far less complicated than the emotional and psychological muss and fuss of dealing with women, and gay men know a lot more than women ever could about the workings of the male body. Just sayin’ — my suggestion is a perfectly logical alternative to that mail order Filipino wife thing.

  45. Bronwen says

    Interesting how Cauterici cites “lack of evidence” as grounds to dismiss concerns about innocent men’s lives being ruined by baseless accusations. What about the lack of evidence for the accusations themselves? The double standards are sickening.

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