How Real Is Sex Toy Stigma?

By Justine Vallata

How Real Is Sex Toy Stigma?

I was recently interviewed by Moana Hope on Entrepreneur Her, a podcast that profiles women business owners who are forging their own leadership paths, breaking free from societal constraints and smashing that glass ceiling. To say I was flattered to be a guest on the show is an understatement.

Moana is an impressive business woman in her own right and while we covered many topics during our chat from starting a star up to business operations and gift giving, the topic of sex toy stigma came up and it really got me thinking ... 

How real is sex toy stigma in 2024?

When I founded That's The Spot I made a conscious decision to approach everything with a “stigma? What stigma?” attitude. So my brand is very “this is That's The Spot, I'm Justine and I want you to gift vibrators in the same fashion you would flowers. What of it?”

Post purchase survey responses tell me that my business attracts people who haven’t felt comfortable to purchase sex toys in the past - for themselves or as a gift. While I probably underestimated just how taboo the adult toy industry still is, my approach has allowed me to create an inclusive and welcoming retail environment which feels relatable and comfortable (because it is relatable and comfortable). Reinforcing of course, that there is a stigma, and people want stigma-free sex toy shopping options - such as the experience offered by That's The Spot.

While I like to sit in my "stigma, what stigma bubble" the reality is any social media posts I make must have words such as 'sex' and 'masturbation' misspelt to avoid my account being blocked, banned or made invisible. Any Google Ad campaigns I run are heavily restricted because of the 'explicit nature' of what I stock. Some of my closest friends and family won't discuss my business with me or outwardly support or promote my efforts because they don't want to be associated with a sex toy brand. 

It's 2024 and sex toy stigma is still very real.

The best remedy for sex toy stigma is having open and honest conversations around masturbation, pleasure and our sexuality (if we feel comfortable to do so). Embracing vibrators and other sex toys and engaging in self-pleasure shouldn't be taboo. You don't have to be super sexy, or adventurous or dabble in kink to be into sex toys - you can just be you.

Own it, talk about it, normalise it.

Vibrators can and should be gifted shame-free to yourself or to someone special in the same fashion you would have previously sent food or flowers. Vibes provide a normal, cool and exciting alternative to traditional gifts and bonus, they last a lot longer than a bouquet of blooms!

Stigma? What stigma? I'm just over here sending my friends and family orgasms and helping others do the same.