Dating apps have made it easier than ever to find a date (or hookup) at a moment's notice. They've also made it easier than ever to be a creep, a racist, and a generally terrible human being. Nobody understands this more than women of color like Filomena Kaguako, a blogger from Ireland who wrote an open letter about racial fetishization after a disturbing experience on Tinder and Plenty of Fish.
In messages published by Metro UK, Kaguako's suitors send her comments like "was wondering if you know any hot brown/black girls," "just want a new experience" (when asked why he's pursuing black women specifically), and "it's not every man who wants to marry and have children with a black woman." Messages like these make her feel like "just a statistic or something to tick off a check list," she told the outlet.
Her experience is by no means rare. Many women of color have described similar treatment. We've been seeing racial fetishization in action on The Bachelorette, where one man introduced himself to Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay (who is Black) by saying "I'm ready to go black and I'm never going to go back."
Kaguako's letter, addressed to "Irishmen," describes why comments like these are so harmful. "There’s more to us than the body that you have unjustly exotified because you refuse to look at what we can offer you intellectually," it reads. "We have depth. We have character. We have value. So please stop sexualizing us. I’m more than just my race...To me, commenting on my race as if it is relevant at all is devaluing and demoralizing." This kind of treatment has tainted her future relationships with men, she added.
Kaguako told Refinery29 that she wrote the letter to educate privileged people about an issue they may not be aware of. "I feel like we live in a world where people who don't go through certain experiences (like being sexualized because of their race) feel like it isn't something that happens," she said. "I just think that the sooner we accept that this is happening, the quicker we'll be on our way to changing it."