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Backlash after blogger posts open letter to Irish men

UNDER SCRUTINY: Filomena Kaguako

IRISH VLOGGER and social commentator Filomena Kaguako, who is of African descent, has spoken to The Voice about the responses to her open letter, Dear Irishmen, please stop sexualising us.

Kaguako posted the blog after encountering multiple men who expressed sentiments to the effect of having a desire to 'try' a sexual experience with a black woman so that they could 'tick it off their bucket list'.

British tabloid attention seemed to whip-up a racist backlash against the blog, which had initially been well-received.

Kaguako reveals more:

Q: What sort of feedback did you get after posting the open letter to Irish men?

A: I’ve had a mixed reaction from Irish men. Some found the mass-generalisation offensive while others knew that my open letter wasn’t directed towards them and commended me for speaking up.

The hyper-sexualisation of women is quite a heavy topic, especially when race is involved. And because I focused on being sexually objectified from a race point of view, many people are making this an issue of racism when that’s not what this was meant to be. I was not looking to create a division between black and white people when writing my letter, I was simply looking to shed light on an issue that is prevalent in the dating community within minorities here in Ireland, and as I’ve recently discovered, other large countries as well.

Q: Did you expect to get the backlash and the media attention you did at the time of writing?

A: Certainly not! It’s hard to predict how your work is going to be received by others. I was expecting more of a positive reaction, and to be honest, I did get that at the start. It was only until the tabloids caught wind of it and misconstrued my words that the massive backlash occurred.

Anybody who actually read my open letter would see that it was never about attacking Irish men. My letter was a very personal and creative piece in which I poured my heart into. It is quite disheartening that such a beautifully-written piece got taken completely out of context and made to be about something it isn’t.

Q: What prompted you to write the piece?

A: I was in a very vulnerable place when I wrote my open letter – as you can probably tell by reading it. But it only took me about ten minutes to write. When I finished, I was in two minds about publishing it so I slept on it. The following morning I decided the core message behind my open letter goes beyond my experience and feelings. It is much bigger than me. So I decided to go public with it in hopes that other women would echo the same sentiments and that men who fetishised women of colour would re-evaluate how they approach minorities.

This letter was not just about me and it wasn't written with just one group of people in mind. You don’t have to be a black woman to relate to my open letter and that is the beauty of it. The letter would carry the same weight had I focused on feeling sexually objectified for reasons other than my race, I just happened to focus on my race because that’s how I felt I was being fetishised.

Q: What's next for you?

A: I have a few projects lined-up but one of my main focuses for the next little while will be on the new series I’m planning for my YouTube channel.

I will be going out in the streets of Dublin and giving the mic to the people of Ireland – that's all I can say for now, but it should be interesting and most importantly, fun!

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