Julia: Yes, perfectly.
Winston: I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don't want any virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.
Julia: Well then, I ought to suit you, dear. I'm corrupt to the bones.
One thing that makes life "interesting" for us humans is that many societies (and Anglophone culture in particular, as very distinct from Francophone) contain a fundamental tension when it comes to sex:
- We desire to be polyamorous, having access to multiple attractive sexual partners.
- We desire that our sexual partners, especially our long-term partners, be monogamous and not have any sexual partners other than ourselves.
This applies to both sexes. Both men and women fall in love, are tempted to cheat on their partners, and feel jealousy when they suspect their partners are cheating on them. If you know that someone has had sex with many different people, this makes them attractive for a one-night-stand, because it suggests that it will be easy to get them into bed and that they will probably be good in it, but it makes them poor prospects for a long-term relationship; they didn't "settle down" with anyone else, so they probably won't settle down with you. Conversely, someone who has carefully guarded their "innocence" is more likely to remain faithful once in a relationship, but they aren't going to settle for anything less than True Love, either. Again, this, too, applies to both sexes. Both men and women tend to categorize potential mates along these lines, according to what is often referred to as the "virgin/whore dichotomy". In other words, in spite of its other benefits, sleeping around will tend to make it harder to find a steady, long-term relationship.
Except in fiction. Some writers generally want to have characters that have sex, and a lot of it, with many different people. Sexual jealousy, and the desire not to provoke it in others, provides a reason for characters not to have sex, so it tends to be one of those things that get swept under the rug. Or, in some cases, less HandWaved and more actively constructed as bad: often because of an erroneous assumption that jealousy inevitably leads to Domestic Abuse (it doesn't, the reasons for abuse are very complicated). In these stories, it's often the case that a man falls in love with a woman as a long-term partner specifically because she is promiscuous, and even encourages her to sleep with other men after they are married. These stories take the My Girl Is Not a Slut trope, turn it upside down, throw it out the window, stomp on it, set it on fire, and then bury it at the bottom of the ocean. Their girl IS a slut, and they prefer it that way.
Although the title of this page is gendered female, it is also frequently applied to male characters. In fact, prior to the 20th Century it was almost exclusively applied to male characters because of the Double Standard (although the norm was always just for the woman to accept it, rather than actively encourage it). This is in no small part because of the psychological connection between male sexuality and battle prowress. A man who slept with lots of people (male or female in many societies) was presumed to be a good warrior, and vice versa. The Hero was either portrayed, or simply implied, to Really Get Around as evidence of his skills. Though the Chaste Hero is equally Older Than Dirt, in older stories other characters will tend to assume this trope is in effect and be surprised (or even offended) by his lack of interest. Please note that use of the trope in this manner leads to the Unfortunate Implication that a man is not good enough unless he's getting laid constantly: a Mind Screw that can cause a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache for real life men and women.
This can sometimes be Truth in Television. Swingers are people in committed relationships that have sex with other people that are also in the swinging lifestyle. In an open relationship, the partners are permitted to have sex outside of the relationship with whomever they wish, though it is usually understood to be "just sex." Polyamory takes this a step farther, with multiple romantic relationships allowed, as long as consideration is given to the feelings of all involved. And there are various other reasons why a partner's infidelity, or the potential for infidelity, might make a someone more interested rather than less. The Other Wiki has an article on the subject. (The polyamorous community also employs the term compersion for an empathetic experience of happiness and joy an individual experiences when another individual experiences the same emotions; this can occur not merely in the context of sex but also romantic relationships. Compersion often coexists with jealousy because relationships are complex.)
Please limit examples to mainstream fiction. There's no point in mentioning any of the millions of "hot wife" stories that can be found on erotic fiction sites.
- Kalash93 used this in Relax to illustrate the closeness of the relationship between Haye and Klee, who is a prostitute. He loves her deeply and has absolutely no problems with her chosen profession.
- Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: An unusual case when it comes to Heather and Cody. The nature of their relationship would lead most to thinking this is the case, when it's actually subverted. Heather herself is actually ashamed of her sexual history though masks it well, Cody on the other hand focuses less on the fact that she has history and more on the fact that she chose him despite it.
- A Million Ways to Die in the West: Edward is dating Ruth the prostitute, and is not so discouraging of her profession.
- The film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is about two couples who, inspired by the "free love" atmosphere of a 1960s subculture, decide to try out the swinging lifestyle. Though what it shows is certainly the most chaste foursome of all time.
- In a scene in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, a disfigured man nicknamed Freakshow suggests, in an offhand manner, to Harold and Kumar that they "fuck his wife". When they meet his wife, they are surprised to find that she is very pretty. She asks to have sex with them, but only on the condition that both of them penetrate her at the same time. Harold and Kumar hesitate because they are uneasy about the implications that they would also be having sex with each other. Before anything happens, Freakshow walks in and appears to be angry; he calms down when reminded that he gave them permission, but then insists on participating. Harold and Kumar immediately leave, and resolve never to speak of it again.
- The protagonist in Chasing Amy, as a way of getting over his hangups about his girlfriend's sexual history, suggest that they have a threesome with his (male) roommate. Subverted in that she is not happy with the suggestion. As discussed in My Girl Is Not a Slut, this is a semi-autobiographical movie about Director/Silent Bob's real-life relationship with star Joey Lauren Adams and his insecurity about her past. He and she admit as much in interviews. However, it wasn't actually about sex, just that she had traveled and seen more of the world, while he'd barely been out of New Jersey.
- Hobgoblins. Daphne, and Amy by the conclusion.
Crow: So, Mike, I learned from today's movie that Daphne was a slut, and Amy wasn't fun until she became a slut.Mike Nelson: Well, that's the fun message of today's movie!
- In Sin City Marv falls for a prostitute who sleeps with him for protection, but it never reaches relationship status because she's dead in the morning. Dwight carries a torch for Gail but refuses to be in a relationship with her because of just how bad he'd get. None of the characters actually get hung up about sexual histories, it's just not the kind of story where stable relationships happen.
- Played with in the film Dangerous Beauty: the title character, Veronica Franco, is a courtesan, and has many lovers over the course of her career. One of those lovers, Marco Venier, really is in love with her and wants her to be his alone. She eventually agrees to be his mistress and not to sleep with any other men anymore but gets called out of retirement to sleep with King Henri III of France to win his support for Venice's war against the Ottomans. Marco, as he says, "cannot bear it."
- In the original Emmanuelle films, Jean encourages Emmanuelle to sleep with other men (and women), although he does get angry when she runs off with Bee.
- In Caddyshack Danny becomes infatuated with Lacey and he becomes more attracted to her after Maggie tells him about her reputation. Lacey later picks up Danny and takes him to bed. The two are then making love. During their pillow talk, Lacey's giggling shows approval of what he just said after Danny tells her:
"I want you to know that just because of this you don't have to stop seeing other people."
- This trope is discussed in Cherry Falls during this dialog between Ben and Cindy who is the village bicycle:
Ben: Jackhole, you're not playing Deathquake. This is the real world.Mark: Fuck you.Cindy: I'ts Ben's pathetic concept of cool, just to pretend he's not afraid.Ben: Hello, Cindy Freud. What's your concept of cool? Bang the entire class starting with "A"?Cindy: If I'm what you just said, why do you try to hook me up nonstop?Ben: I find the experience attractive.
- The Garden of the Finzi-Continis: Bruno the rake says he likes his girlfriend Gladys precisely because she is so slutty.
- Played with in Nowhere. Dark is in an open relationship with his girlfriend, but feels ambivalent about it and seems to want true love and a more traditional relationship. But he also is crushing on Mysterious Waif Montgomery.
- In Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein, the protagonist's love interest is bi and poly. He jokes that he doesn't have a problem with her having sex with other women, but wants to be her only man. At the end, he gives in, saying she can sleep with anyone she wants, as long as she comes home to him. And damn if she's open-minded. She gives the protagonist a lecture about healthy bestiality relationships at one point when he dares to be offended.
- 1984's Julia. Winston even at one point says, "The more men you've been with the more I love you." Though mostly for political reasons.
- Anita Blake.
- Although this surprisingly never reaches the heart of the trope. It's presented as vital to Anita's political, physical and metaphysical safety that she have an ever-expanding pool of men, and (partly due to her powers modifying them) the reactions of the men in her life to this fact vary from blissed-out indifference to very grudging acceptance (with occasional tantrums)... but Anita still won't do more than an emergency hookup with a man who's actually attracted by this.
- In the Riley Jensen, Guardian series by Keri Arthur, which one might say was "inspired" by the Anita Blake books, the main character is a werewolf, and werewolf society is very blase about sex, due to werewolves basically going "on heat" every full moon. Riley's romantic interests tend to take this poorly, though Riley's attitude is like it or lump it.
- Lazarus Long's mother in Heinlein's Time Enough for Love takes "MILF" to absurd extremes. In general, many of Heinlein's books had characters that were pretty big on "free love". In Job: A Comedy of Justice, it's implied that parental incest is itself a cool and groovy thing by the wife of the protagonist's best friend, in regard to their teenage daughter. Of course, nothing is what it seems in that scene. He is Satan in an assumed form, she is an Ascended Human, and the "daughter" is not related to either of them - she's an afreet. They're all playing with the protagonist's head to try to shake his rigid assumptions about Right and Wrong. Since this is done in an expository and sympathetic manner rather than an evil one, it may not matter.
- Miriam "Starhawk" Simos, in her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, wrote a poem blessing a lover's other and/or previous partners for having "made you who you are."
- Vonda McIntyre seems to like putting polyamorous (or simply uninhibited) characters in her novels. It's the monogamous ones (like Arevin in Dreamsnake) who tend to stand out.
- All characters in Brave New World, having their first sexual experiences long before puberty. And society considers monogamous relationships to be an unusual perversion. In fact, Lenina was criticized by her friend for not being slutty enough. Henry, Lenina's semi-regular partner, is always curious about who else she goes out with.
- 15th-century French poet Francois Villon wrote a poem (The Ballad of Fat Margot) about his lover, who was a prostitute and even advertised her in it. He was parodying the love poetry of the era, which described women as virginal and unattainable.
- Applies to Caesar and Servilia's relationship in the Emperor series. When they meet, Servilia is a prostitute, and there's never any evidence that Caesar has a problem with her keeping up that profession while they're together. Similarly, Servilia doesn't mind his sleeping with other women - in fact, she encourages him to marry a young, fertile woman so he can have a son. A relationship doesn't really get more open than that...
- When a woman's lover has a very significantly higher social status than herself, possession often takes the back seat to affiliation, which she wouldn't dare endanger. The benefits outweigh the costs, especially for individuals as sexually practical as prostitutes. Furthermore, the Romans, especially patricians, had an extremely fun-rather-than-procreation perception of sex.
- What makes it a bit ironic is that while Caesar's first wife is still alive he remains completely faithful to her, even when she is unable to have sex with him, and when they are apart.
- In Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, King Lot of Orkney and his wife, Morgause, both sleep around, and are both fully aware of it. But they're still each other's best friend and confidante, and she is heartbroken when he dies.
- In a male example, Seth from Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr was a promiscuous sleeper until he falls in love with and starts going out with the main character.
- In the World War II novels by Sven Hassel, the character known only as The Westphalian is quite proud of his unfaithful wife back home. "I bet she's got a paying customer in bed right now. Think I'd want a wife who could only do it with a broom handle?"
- In The Bible, Hosea is asked by God to marry a prostitute named Gomer, despite knowing that Gomer would cheat on him even having to be literally bought back from another man, as an object lesson to the people of Israel (who had fallen into corruption and idolatry). Hosea does so willingly.
- In The Great Gatsby, when he first met her, Gatsby believed that Daisy's past history with many men made her "valuable."
- Many of John Donne's poems and essays are about how wonderful women are who sleep around. Seeing as how this is John Donne, (see Unreliable Narrator) it's difficult to tell whether he was being serious or sarcastic. Throughout history, people have argued both ways.
- Johnny in The Truth of Rock and Roll loves Jenny for her experience and Good Bad Girl free-spiritedness. There is a moment when she doubts this - "So basically...Both your parents think Im a whore. Are you worried that theyre right?...Do you not want to be with me now that Im a whore?...I like to wear these clothes, Johnny. I like to wear this makeup, I like to dance sexy and I like to fuck. Until tonight, I thought you liked those things about me." - but he quickly reassures her that he does; he just fears that he's giving her a bad reputation. She finds this hilarious.
- Poseidon and Amphitrite has this kind of relationship in Seeds by M. M. Kin. They remain married, while each has occasional lovers on the side. The arrangement works because they agreed on everything at the beginning and are actually very happy with each other, as opposed to Zeus and Hera.
- In Flowers for Algernon Charlie doesn't particularly mind Fay having many partners before and during their relationship because they were more Friends with Benefits anyway.
- Grace Hanadarko from Saving Grace, oh my. At one point an attorney digs up every guy Grace slept with over the summer and drags them into the police station. Grace remarks that they'd have to get a new building if he dug up the fall and winter guys too.
- Belle on Bedtime Stories.
- Samantha Jones on Sex and the City
- Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls.
- 1st LT. Colleen McMurphy and K.C. on China Beach.
- At one point in Scrubs, Dr. Cox has the dozens of people who've slept with Jordan (his ex-wife) raise their hands, then thanks whoever it was who taught her the Reverse Cowgirl Position. You're welcome!
- Stumpy on Carnivàle is not only Rita Sue's husband, but he's also her on-stage promoter and pimp, so he financially benefits from this trope. Their daughters are strippers as well. According to Word of God, such family-run "cooch shows" were Truth in Television in the 1930s. A few potholes aside, Stumpy and Rita Sue actually have one of the healthiest relationships on the show (which isn't saying much, considering how screwed up everybody is).
- When Mac and Charlie find out that Dee has been having more sex with more partners than anyone else on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia they become profoundly jealous.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- There's a weird mix when it comes to Marshall and Lily in. On one hand, he considers it a point of pride that neither one of them has slept with anyone else. On the other, he's also pretty proud of some of the wild turns their sex lives have taken since then:
Barney: Girls whose names end in -ly are always dirty. Holly, Kelly, Lily...Marshall: Hey! That's... no, that's true.
- Season 7 also has Barney constantly brag about dating a stripper, although it's eventually Deconstructed as it's revealed that he struggles to deal with this.
- There's a weird mix when it comes to Marshall and Lily in. On one hand, he considers it a point of pride that neither one of them has slept with anyone else. On the other, he's also pretty proud of some of the wild turns their sex lives have taken since then:
- The song "Tu reputacion" by Ricardo Arjona is about a man who doesn't mind that his actual girlfriend had slept with half the town (before she had finished high school), and even blesses all the men she had sex with before.
- Chorus goes (loose translation): "If your past is what taught you to love me this way, God bless those that came before me"
- Ben Kweller's song "Wasted and Ready" describes how one character likes the fact that his girlfriend is a "slut" and finds it sexy. The characters referred to are actually from the movie "The Doom Generation".
- "One Love at a Time" by Tanya Tucker.
- "Promiscuous Girl" by Nelly Furtado and featuring Timbaland.
- "Outlaw Women" by Hank Williams Jr.
- "Patricia the Stripper" by The Wombats
She works downtown in an unmarked bar,Flyin' round poles she always gave me the fright of my lifeI didn't mean to get involved it was the alcoholMixed with an empty feelin' inside.Its such a bad idea to fall in love with a 'lady of the night'
Months go by and I'm alone in bedWhile she's greasing up for when the businessmen and lawyers arriveI've got to wear a beard a suit and tieTo get past the door if I want to see my girl tonightI go to all this effort just to see my fair Patricia going home with some other guy
- And then later in the song
- Parodied by the Irish comedy band Dead Cat Bounce; at some point during their performances, the band members trade instruments except for the bassist, who then claims that he'd never cheat on his bass, but doesn't mind if other guys play her.
- "Bad Girlfriend" by Theory Of A Deadman.
- Subverted in Usher's "I Don't Mind", the theme of which is that he doesn't mind that his girlfriend is a stripper, because he knows she'll be faithful to him.
- "Wild Thing" by The Troggs.
- Todd Rundgren's "Slut", from Something/Anything?. It's right there in the title!
S-L-U-T - she may be a slut, but she looks good to me.
- "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie:
Rebel Rebel, you've torn your dressRebel Rebel, your face is a messRebel Rebel, how could they know?Hot tramp, I love you so!
- Leonard Cohen's "Paper Thin Hotel" and "Everybody Knows".
- Jethro Tull's "Kissing Willie" sums it up in one line:
Nice girl but a bad girl's better
- Jackie Gayda would openly throw herself at the opponents of Charlie Haas and his tag team partners. However, she didn't like it when he made moves on other women, such as Dawn Marie and Haas did take issue with Marco Corolone's advances towards Jackie in EAW.
- Johnny Nitro was initially teased with being unable to keep Melina's loyalty but she was loyal, as she would "wear out" opponents of his and Joey Matthews/Mercury. But then they tried it on Batista, which apparently only made him stronger.note
- Jimmy Jacobs allowed The Lovely Lacey to have sex with other men in order to further The Age Of The Fall. This ended up backfiring on him when he tried to lure in Austin Aries with her, but Lacey ended up falling for Aries instead.
- Edge didn't like people calling Lita a slut, but he would gladly let her have sex with other people if it helped him win or keep a title belt...of course Edge would also let physical harm come to Lita to save his own skin and she, kind of just took it.
- When Kurt Angle's wife Karen set out to undermine Christian Cage's Coalition by seducing its members, Kurt not only didn't care but ended up "giving" her to AJ Styles until his business with Samoa Joe and the TNA World Heavyweight Title were finished.
- Lola from Bully, practically seen with any guy that will give her what she wants despite the fact she is technically Johnny's girlfriend.
- Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City gets involved with Mercedes Cortez, but doesn't mind at all her getting around. When he's producing a porn film, he gets her to be in it, and when a rock band asks for Tommy to provide some female entertainment for them, he goes to pick up Mercedes. She doesn't even need to be convinced to do any of this beyond simply asking.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic if the Sith Inquisitor is romancing Space Pirate Andronikos they have this kind of relationship. Flirting or even having occasional one-night-stands with other men only increases his affections (and he pursues side flings of his own as well). The Imperial Agent can also be played this way if romancing Kaliyo, who makes no effort to even pretend the relationship is exclusive.
- Sasha Hartford of Housepets! is a good example. She is very laissez-faire with regards to the relationships she's been involved in, frequently looking to snuggle with other dogs while carrying on a relationship with a boyfriend. A good early example is her openly showing then-boyfriend Bino an invitation to have his older brother Fido's puppies. Even with her later boyfriend, police dog, Kevin, he never seemed to mind her being admired by other dogs. But it seems she simply sees a difference between casual and romantic relationships. She is of the belief she can have one-off liaisons with other dogs, and separately have a romantic relationship with one dog. Bino didn't like that, but Kevin doesn't mind. In fact, he didn't even mind Sasha chasing Fox's tail until Fox revealed he had a crush on her. That's when both Kevin and Sasha put their footpaws down.
- Swinging is an accepted fact of life in Insecticomics dating, but most obvious with Elita. Red Alert was very concerned to find Bombshell had installed several new programs in her...only to find out they were all antivirus programs.
- The two main characters of Blur the Lines, Rick and Drew, openly discuss their sexual escapades with other men with each other, even though they have been partners for ten years.
- The reason why all the boys woo Jodie from Loserz
- Murugu of Twisted Kaiju Theater, and Shin-Goji knows it. In fact, when he finds his illegal Mexican bootleg kaiju figure poolboys gangbanging her, his main concern is that the pool doesn't exist in his backyard yet. Shin-Goji's only problem with his girlfriend is that Murugu is a registered Republican.
- Brazilian website wwwchargesdotcomdotbr has "Só Levando", featuring the Bezerra couple. Their marriage is open. As Mr. Bezerra once put it, his wife can have relationships with other men and the only reason he can't have anything with other women is the fact they don't want it.
- The Venture Bros.:
- The episode "The Buddy System" uses this as a basis for a joke, explicitly stating that The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend have actually experimented with this at some point in the past. It should be noted that it was the Monarch's idea (and felt awkward afterwards). He did seem to be turned on when she was seducing Doctor Venture.
- This aspect of the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend's relationship was also brought up previously in "Are You There God? It's Me, Dean." The Monarch keeps Brock and Hank as collateral, but Dr. Girlfriend assumes that they're in the cocoon for very different reasons:
"I guess the muscular one is alright, but the boy is going too far. Can't we just use the puppets again?"
- Word of God states that the Monarch insisted on theirs being an open marriage, and is much less successful in exploiting it than his wife.
- Like many things in the series - especially those involving Monarch's rather unstable psyche - the awkwardness is rather situational. When 21 finally snaps and admits to getting buzzed on champagne and making out with Dr. Mrs. The Monarch while she was in a cheerleader outfit and he was in bondage gear while Monarch was unconscious under them, he pretty much expects to have to fight Monarch to the death... Monarch laughs it off with "So you had a drunken three-way! We're supervillains, SWINGERS baby!" He then gets into ENTIRELY too much detail about a prior encounter with another villain, including the Doctor recalling what she cooked them all for breakfast.
- Family Guy
- Peter, a huge KISS fan, is very proud when he learned that his wife Lois once slept with Gene Simmons before he was famous. He proceeds to spend the rest of the episode making sure everyone else knows it, too. When interviewed on TV, Lois pretty much advises girls to sleep with everyone because they don't know who might become famous. It should be noted though, that he only feels that way about relationships Lois had before he met her. He is extremely defensive about any perceived flirting going on between Lois and other men now that they are together, even if it's Gene Simmons (or a male orca at Sea World... or his own reflection in the mirror...), and was understandably upset when Lois slept with Bill Clinton (though when he goes to confront Bill, he ends up sleeping with him too because Bill is just that good).
- Lois also starred in the porno film Quest for Fur.
- Kenny from South Park is quite overjoyed to learn his girlfriend is a "slut" in the episode "The Ring". This is more or less the reason he started dating her in the first place, which didn't make him happy when she became "born again". The girlfriend in question had performed oral sex on one boy. Kenny was trying to make it two. He succeeded, but he died of syphilis after. Knowing the character, still Worth It.
- Six on Tripping the Rift was originally designed as a Sex Bot and serves as the ship's science officer because she's the smartest one on the ship.
- In American Dad!, this is part of Avery's type:
- Season 5 of BoJack Horseman has the family of Yolanda Bueneventura, Todd's (also asexual) girlfriend, all of whom are involved in the sex industry. Her father is an erotic novelist, her mother starred in every John Hughes porn parody, and her sister is a sex advice columnist. Beyond that, her parents want to hear the sounds of Yolanda and Todd having sex while staying the night, because they want to be sure their daughter is enjoying herself, and are ignorant of asexuality entirely.