Interview with Shawna Scott of Sex Siopa, on Sex Toy Stigma

Shawna is the owner of, a beloved Irish sex toy boutique. Now based in Sligo, Shawna moved to Ireland in 2005 from Seattle and started Sex Siopa in December 2012 as she couldn’t find any adult toy shops on the island that made her feel comfortable as a custormer or sold exclusively bodysafe products. Since then Sex Siopa has gone onto win several awards for excellence in Online Retail and Social Media Strategy. When she’s not selling and gift wrapping sex toys, Shawna is most likely eating the last biscuit or cuddling her rescue greyhound, Gozer.


Where do you think stigma around sex toys comes from?

I think a lot of the stigma around sex toys has to do with insecurities about our own sexual performance, particularly in cis heterosexual relationships. There’s a myth that’s been perpetuated by media and entertainment for decades that if you own a sex toy that you’re lonely or that your partner isn’t satisfying you. I do think we’re getting better at recognising the myth for what it is, but there’s still work to be done.

Do you think the stigma is influenced by gender and/or sexuality?

I think a good bulk of the stigma is down to misogyny and toxic masculinity. It tells femme folk that they’re not being please by their partners so they have to use a toy (see all the jokes about not needing a man if you have a vibrator), and it tells masculine folk that there’s something intrinsically wrong with themselves if their forced to “have” to use toys instead of sleeping with women. It still exists a bit, but you don’t see as much of this anxiety within the LGBTQIA+ community.

How much has it changed over the years?

The industry has changed so much over the past 25 years. What used to be a male-dominated industry is massively shifting thanks so queer and female-owned shops, brands, educators, and toy bloggers. This has allowed the demographic to widen and become more diverse, which has been great for toy innovation. There’s more choice than ever before!

How do we break the stigma around using sex toys as individuals?

Getting rid of stigma on an individual level requires a lot of self-work and meditating on why you think of sex toys a certain way. What is it about them that makes you uncomfortable and try to break that down. And then start reading more sex toy blogs and following more educators. The more we educate ourselves, the easier it is to break that stigma.

How can the sex toy industry help to break the stigma?

I think the toy industry is already doing a pretty good job. We’re seeing huge amounts of innovation and new indie brands popping up all the time. The industry’s biggest barrier is acceptance from the mainstream. We’re currently policed harder on social media than white supremacy.

What advice would you give to a couple looking to begin using sex toys?

Start slow, and keep an open mind. Browse for toys individually that you’d like and then shop together. You don’t have to get a toy that’s marketed as a “couples’ toy” per se. Just get whatever toys you think would be fun to get off with and use them together. Any toy can be a couples’ toy.

Any recommended reading/watching/following/listening in relation to sex toys?

My fave blogs are Hey EpiphoraOh Joy Sex Toy, or Super Smash Cache. I also love watching @FeelmoreAdult boutique in Oakland on Tiktok. They’re so much fun and so good at marketing their shop.

Grace Alice Sex And Relationships Educator

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This service is fully limited to Sexuality Education. All advice is given in an honest manner and as guidance only. By using this service, you agree that you make your own decisions, relying solely on your discretion; any use you make of such answers, advice or services is at your own risk and ‘Grace Alice Sexuality Educator’ cannot be held responsible or be liable for any damages or losses resulting from your reliance on such answers or advice.

What is a peer-to-peer support session?

Firstly, let us start with what the session is not! I am not a practicing sex therapist, sexologist, medical professional, psychotherapist, psychologist, counsellor, or mental health professional. Therefore, I do not provide medical advice (although I may recommend that you seek guidance from a medical professional if appropriate) or a therapy service.

Sex & Relationships Education is a separate field to these professions, and I employ my own unique approach based on my qualifications, training, and experience. I hold an undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy and a Masters degree in Health Promotion. I have over six years experience working as a Sex & Relationships Educator and have undergone continuous professional development and training. I also studied empathy education as a UNESCO scholar, which informs my approach. Details of my qualifications and training are available on my LinkedIn page – please see the ‘About’ page also!

Within a session, I offer a confidential and safe space for discussion of various issues relating to relationships and sexuality. I strive for a relaxed, informal vibe, where you can chat about something that you have been struggling with. I can offer a friendly and non-judgemental listening ear, suggestions on how you can approach your own personal situation, general information on the related topic(s) and details of relevant professionals, support services and organisations (usually in a follow-up email). I can accommodate sessions relating to many topics relating to relationships and sexuality – including but not limited to body image, sexual communication, consent and boundaries, protection, anatomy, vaginismus, porn, STIs and STI stigma, healthy and unhealthy relationships, gender and sexuality, pleasure, arousal, desire, infidelity, break-ups, dating, and more.  I want my clients to feel relaxed, comfortable, and free to talk without fear or shame, like they would with a very close friend!

How does a Booking work?

In a nutshell, you can contact me via the booking page on this site and request a booking. If I decide that a session with me would be a good fit for you, I will contact you and arrange a time and date!

Here is the pricing for sessions;

Standard Session1 hour€50
Student* Standard Session1 hour€40
*A valid student I.D. must be presented.  

Please note that the session must be paid for in full at least 24 hours prior to the session, using the payment method and details I will provide to you in an email. If you do not have PayPal, we can arrange another form of payment (Revolut or bank transfer – please factor in the extra time it will take you to set up an account if needed or the possible delay in bank transfers, this may slightly affect the scheduling of your session).

Due to the nature of this service, I cannot offer any refunds for any reason during or after a session.

However, if you have paid and can no longer attend the scheduled session, I can offer you a full refund if you notify me of the cancellation at least 48 hours beforehand. If you wish to reschedule, please notify me at least 48 hours before the time of the scheduled session, and we can work something out!

Am I guaranteed to have a session?

Imay choose not to do a session with you if I feel that I am unable to offer support or education relating to your situation. I will contact you to let you know if I have decided that my service is not a good fit for you, and I will offer some suggestions regarding more suitable professionals/organisations/services to contact.

Although we may chat about lots of different things during a session, if someone has clearly not been truthful in the booking form about the topic area that want to discuss and appear to have an ulterior motive in booking the session, I may choose to end the session. The same rule applies to a situation where someone is clearly not who they have stated they are in the booking form. 

I cannot offer sessions to anyone under the age of 18 years. I may choose to ask you to present a copy of a valid form of I.D. if I feel that confirmation of age is needed. Requesting to book a session indicates that you are aged 18 years or over, and that you are being truthful in disclosing your age.

If I feel that someone is being disrespectful, offensive, or inappropriate, and I feel uncomfortable, I may choose to end the session. I may also end the session if I believe that it is being recorded.

Is it all confidential?


es! Confidentiality is essential to a service like this and I will do everything in my power on my end to protect it.

Here is what I will do on my end; I will abide by GDPR guidelines and make every effort to keep all personal information relating to sessions safe. Booking requests and emails with a form attached/included will be retained for no more than 1 year. The form may be printed, and I may take notes before, during and after the session either by hand or typed. Forms, notes, and USB key will all be stored in a locked file safe in my home office. All forms and notes (hard and soft copies) will be deleted and/or destroyed after one year.  I will send you a Zoom Meeting ID and password before the session using the email address you have given me. I will use headphones and will be alone in a private space during all sessions. All  records of calls and video calls will be deleted after one year.

Please be mindful of what you choose to share within the session. I have an obligation to break confidentiality and report to Tusla and/or the Gardaí any disclosures of child abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and other crimes.

Here is what you must do on your end! You must not screenshot, record and/or distribute any part of your session. It is also your responsibility to protect your privacy as much as you like on your end. This may include keeping your phone password-protected, using a non-identifiable email address that does not include your name, deleting correspondence, making sure you have a private space for your session where you will not be interrupted or overheard, etc.

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