Is it time to stop worrying and love the panopticon?

The latest wrinkle in the “shitty media men” story has got me wondering: Is it time to stop worrying and learn to love the digital panopticon?

For those who haven’t been following the news, last October a list began circulating privately of, as the list’s title had it, “shitty media men” — men who were accused of anything from creepy behavior at the office to rape and violent assault. The list was passed around avidly, and added to by multiple women. When the original creator tried to take the list down, she discovered she couldn’t. It had, as they say, gone viral.

The real-world consequences had many layers. A number of women in media discovered that they were not the only victims of particular men, which galvanized them to be more vocal than they had been. Some of the men named were investigated by their employers, and in at least some cases lost their jobs. A meta-conversation developed around the list itself: Was it an unaccountable form of vigilantism, or a just the beginning of a long-overdue accountability moment?

The two latest turns of the screw came so quickly as to induce dizziness. Harpers Magazine was preparing to run an article by the writer Katie Roiphe that many believed would include the identity of the woman who created the list in the first place. Though Roiphe herself later denied any intent to reveal the woman’s identity, a Twitter-based campaign had already been launched to punish Harpers for what some saw as punishing a whistleblower.

And now, the originator of the list, Moira Donegan, has outed herself preemptively.

In Donegan’s essay explaining why she created the list in the first place, she doesn’t really explain why she chose to end her anonymity, other than to say that the widespread outrage about the prospect of her being outed “made it seem inevitable that my identity would be exposed even before the Roiphe piece ran.” That sounds like she was following a good public relations manual and “getting out ahead of the story”: By revealing what others would have exposed, she would get to set the terms on which her story would be understood.

It’s a wise strategy — but it presumes a strength and willingness to endure exposure and its potentially threatening consequences. So there’s a fairly bitter irony here. The list was created to “out” men who were getting away with …read more

Source:: The Week – Entertainment


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