Why I made a Tricolour Dildo

by Shawna Scott April 13, 2016

Irish flag tricolour dildo by Sex Siopa and BS Atelier

This piece was written for and originally published by the UCD College Tribune. It is my last article for them this year. It's been such a pleasure working with them. You can read their paper at collegetribune.ie

Over the last year or so, there’s been much talk about what forms the 1916 Centenary commemorations would take, who can be included, and how they can be included. Some felt there shouldn’t be any mention on Glasnevin Cemetery memorial wall of British soldiers who died in the rising. Others argued that any events should first be approved by the government.

I recently saw Trinity Student Union President and Seanad candidate, Lynn Ruane, speak recently in Liberty Hall about how she felt as a youngster that 1916 wasn’t for her; that because of her working class background, she felt disconnected to it. I sometimes feel the same, but for different reasons. Despite living in Dublin for 11 years - my entire adult life to be precise - and holding an Irish passport, the most noticeable thing about me will always be my American accent. Admittedly this part of myself at worst, results in minor frustrations when I’m told over and over that I’ll “never understand,” because I didn’t grow up here; or when a taxi driver tries to go the scenic route because he thinks I’m a tourist.

Sadly though, the part I feel mosts disconnects me from the Rising, and in particular our Proclamation, is the fact that I’m a woman. Now I’ve nothing bad to say about the Proclamation itself. Like most I’d agree that it’s a beautifully worded document ahead of it’s time in terms of including women. I’m sad that those words were quickly ignored after Ireland gained independence, and apart from voting rights, women all but lost their newfound freedom. Our Constitution squarely places our societal role in the home as mothers, which has had tragic consequences ever since and still affects us today.

As the run up to the commemorations approached, I started to think about how I, an American-born sex shop owner could celebrate in my own way. I wanted to celebrate the strides we’ve taken in the past 25 years for sexual freedom. We’ve made condoms legal without prescription; decriminalised homosexuality; made divorce and same sex marriage legal; and we now allow people to self-identify their own gender. These are incredible achievements, but we’ve still a long road ahead of us.

I also wanted to highlight the fact that I and scores of women in this country do not feel equal without bodily autonomy. I don’t feel equal, because I’m not trusted to make a choice about what’s best for me and my life. So I chose to use my platform as a small business owner to create something that would give a nod to how far Ireland has come, but also how much work still needs to be done.

I got in touch with the wonderful women at BS Atelier, a studio in Madrid that handmakes silicone sex toys, to ask if they would make the Irish flag dildo of my dreams. They were only too delighted to be involved with the project. I decided that I would like to donate €5 from each sale to the Abortion Rights Campaign, and on Thursday the 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, I launched the toy.  I waited nervously for backlash, but apart from a few garden variety twitter trolls telling me I should be deported, the response was hugely positive, and the story was picked up by a number of media outlets. That disconnect that I was feeling before started to melt away and I began to feel like more of an active participate in my adopted country’s commemorations.

From the very beginning my plan for Sex Siopa has been to help change Ireland’s attitudes towards sex and work towards creating a more open, sex positive environment. However it doesn’t matter how many dildos I make, I cannot do this on my own. Without trying to sound too sickly sweet about it, it’s going to take the lot of us - especially you young university folk - to make Ireland the sexually empowered utopia of the future that we want it to be.

There’s plenty of ways to go about doing this - admittedly some sexier than others - but all are equally important. Read as much as you can! Reading is sexy and knowledge is power. The more you educate yourself about sex, the better you’ll be able to understand your own sexuality and that of your partners’. Write to your local TD’s and let them know that gender equality, including repealing the 8th Amendment, is important to you.

And finally: be kind to yourselves and eachother. Treat others with respect. Don’t shame them for the types of people or activities they’re into, and equally don’t let others shame you for those things either. Stop asking yourself if your body, kinks, lack of kinks, sexual identity, frequency with which you bone is normal. No one is normal. Our bodies as well as our myriad combinations of sexual turn-ons are all different. That’s what makes us sexy!


If we all take onboard that one piece of advice, I think that’ll be one big step in the right direction.




Shawna Scott
Shawna Scott

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