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Express yourself; don't repress yourself

Express yourself; don't repress yourself

And I'm not sorry

It's human nature
Madonna, "Human Nature"
We Need Sexually Liberated Women

We Need Sexually Liberated Women

This character is a moral and benevolent person, at least when it comes to matters of romance and sexuality. A person who has a strong (and reasonable) ethical code, a strong (and not misguided) sense of empathy, or both. Because of this, regardless of this or in spite of this (depending on the setting), the character believes that Sex Is Good and that it's wrong to impose heteronormative limits to what sexuality should be like.

This is a character who is strongly opposed to abuse, exploitation, entitlement and Double Standards, while at the same time also opposing judgmental and moralistic attitudes about such matters as promiscuity, Polyamory, Open Relationships, Friends with Benefits, homosexuality, BDSM and Maligned Mixed Marriage, cuckoldry and open relationships. Since this standpoint is a personal one, the character does not have to be interested in politics or activism. More often than not, the character is simply leading by example by (directly or indirectly) embracing a wide range of sexuality and by caring about the emotions of everyone involved. Simply having a good time while being a good person. Also, it should be noted that when a female character is described as being "liberated", it usually means that she's sexually liberated.

Note that embracing does not mean to make something mandatory, although it is likely to be recommended. An Ethical Slut is allowed to be celibate or monogamous if he or she so prefer. However, cheating on a partner is totally unacceptable: Open relationships are okay, but deceit and dishonesty is not. The concept of Ethical Slut is a gender neutral one: The idea that only women can be sluts is a Double Standard, and the idea that being a slut would be a bad thing reeks of moralism as well as confused emotions. The trope is named after the book The Ethical Slut: A practical guide to Polyamory, open relationships & other adventures. As the other wiki summarizes it:

 "The authors define the term slut as a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you. The term is reclaimed from its usual use as a pejorative and as a simple label for a promiscuous person. Instead, it is used to signify a person who is accepting of their enjoyment of sex and the pleasure of intimacy with others, and chooses to engage and accept these in an ethical and open way rather than as cheating."

Remember that the Ethical part of this trope refers specifically to sexual and romantic relationships. An otherwise Complete Monster could qualify for this trope if they are honest and forthright in their sexual encounters, whereas a normally good person could still fail to qualify if their actions in their romantic relationships are deceptive or selfish.

See also Free-Love Future, Love Goddess, Good Bad Girl and Chivalrous Pervert. Compare Hooker with a Heart of Gold. Contrast The Casanova and Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality.

No Real Life Examples, Please

Examples of Ethical Slut include:


Anime and Manga

  • Virgin Love is essentially a Boys Love Story between two manwhores.
  • Sayoko Bizen in the extremely appropriately named manga Slut Girl by Isutoshi, as well as her many friends and/or rivals, and her on/off boyfriend Satoru Ichii. She might be quite a Jerkass, and she sleeps around with a reckless abandon, but Satoru is hardly better, not to speak of other girls, and in the end they all have their standards.
  • Durarara's Rokujou Chikage loves all women, and is completely open about his promiscuous ways. Not only will he date five or six women at the same time, but he'll take all of them on the same date.
  • Shinobu Handa of Shoujo Sect, as well as a couple of the girls in her sizable harem. Shinobu is forever pining for Momoko Naitou, but she will happily cavort with any willing female. Contrast to Ohkami Sayuri, who forces herself on Shinobu in the manga, and extorts her by threatening Naitou with a scandal in the anime. When asked why she allowed herself to be put in that position, Shinobu replied that no matter the circumstances,she couldn't bring herself to hurt a girl.
  • Cross Marian of D Gray Man may fit. His hobby includes visiting Red-Light Districts. He has many lovers, and is called a womanizer by other characters. But he doesn't seem sleazy, hateful or negative toward women. His last lover was a hooker, but he says she was a good woman. He also had a relationship with said lover's mother-which said lover knew about as she's the one that tells Lenalee and the readers. He flirts with Lenalee, commenting how beautiful she has become, and that he'd have come to save everyone sooner had he known she was there. Lenalee talks to him about his last lover, Anita, he then talks to Lenalee about what a good woman she was, knowing that she'd been killed. So, doesn't seem he dehumanizes prostitutes.
    • Lenalee is also used against him to make him stay at the HQ he hates, thinking that she's so cute, he can't refuse.

Comics

  • The Star Sapphires of the Green Lantern comics. They believe in love and the freedom to love in all its myriad forms, though his becomes hypocritical when it's shown that one of the Sapphires' weapons is a worldwide crystal prison and many of their individual Lanterns are brainwashed former criminals.
    • To be fair, only one Sapphire (Fatality) is known to be a former criminal at this point. The Sapphires' problem is that originally the titular crystal would turn its bearers into rampaging Yandere, who would preserve their love for eternity (if it was reciprocated) by encasing the entire planet they were on in crystal. Now that they channel their power through rings the Sapphires have calmed down considerably.
  • The goddess Freya, in Valhalla (a graphic novel version of the Norse mythology).
  • Almost any non-villainous character in a work by Phil Foglio, but of particular note are Orgasm Lass of XXXenophile and Madame Louisa Dem Five of Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire who seem somewhere between confused and insulted by the idea that someone would actually choose not to have sex when given a willing partner. Since Lou runs a very high-profile brothel, so in her case at least turning down sex isn't just a perceived slur on her desirability as a partner, it's an aspersion on her very business. And even then, Lou backs off when told that the man she's coming on to has pledged a monogamous relationship to his partner.
  • This is the ruling ethos in Alan Moore's Lost Girls but especially Alice.
  • Moonstone Books' version of the Domino Lady tends to fall under this trope. The character is quite unapologetic about her many on-panel and off-panel liaisons, but she draws the line at sleeping with men who are involved with someone else.
  • Cherry is all about this.


Fanfiction

Films

  • The female lead in 500 Days of Summer fits this bill.
  • Most of the main characters in Preaching to the Perverted.
  • Most of the main characters in Shortbus.
  • In Vanilla Sky, this works better in theory than in a reality where people are lying to themselves.
  • Louise Bryant in Reds becomes one after Jack Reed turns her on to his free love philosophy. For a time, she becomes kind of fundamentalist about it, and Eugene O'Neill makes fun of her about it during their affair. Both she and Jack have trouble remaining true to their slut-ethics over the course of the film, with their jealousy periodically causing one or the other to break off their relationship.
  • Fanon has almost universally taken this attitude towards the characterization of Gaila, from the 2009 Star Trek movie. Characterization of Kirk is split somewhere between this and portraying his rampant sexcapades (which are mostly an Informed Attribute, as we only actually see him hit on Uhura and get it on with Gaila) as part of his self-destructive tendencies.
  • John Waters' movie A Dirty Shame is about a cult of self-proclaimed sex addicts of all manner of orientations and fetishes who seek to liberate their town through the virtue of sex.
  • Brazilian film De Pernas pro Ar has the protagonist becoming one after she is fired and dumped and thus decides to see if her sex shop owner neighbor (who also qualifies for the trope) can help.
  • Linda Barrett in Fast Times at Ridgemont High


LARP

  • In the NERO LARP Mystic Wood Elves are a hybrid of elves and satyrs. They are not referred to as "the horny elves" just because of the horns on their heads.


Literature

  • Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. "Everyone belongs to everyone", after all...
  • Trope namer is the non-fiction "The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities." The 2009 2nd edition was renamed to the more specific "The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures"
  • All the major characters in Robert A. Heinlein's later books.
  • The Vorkosigan Saga: Anybody from Beta Colony. Known for it galaxy-wide.
  • In Stieg Larsson's The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest), the male protagonist and female protagonist are both heroic ethical sluts who sleeps around with each other and their other close friends. In the first book the main antagonists are of the "Sex Is Evil... and I'm horny!" kind. The original title is "Män Som Hatar Kvinnor", literally "Men Who Hates Women".
  • The Avatar by Poul Anderson: Caitlín Mulryan is involved with a married man...and it's made clear that she wouldn't be if his wife hadn't okayed it. She's also rather casual about sex with people she likes, and perfectly willing to call out others for having Double Standards.
  • This seems to be the hat of the Taykans (or at least di'Taykans, who are Taykans in the phase of life at which they're mature but not yet fertile) in the Confederation of Valor series.
  • Oksana Pankeeva. ANYTHING by Oksana Pankeeva, though the actual content is very PG-13. Subverted in her take on elves, who manage to turn it Up to 11 so hard that it freaks out not just the rest of the Ethical Slut universe, but even the bloody Paladin Corps (a bunch of Lawful Stupid fratboy bunnies on steroids). Although it might also have something to do with elves being grotesquely-dressed compulsively bisexual omnivores who spew Ethical Slut ideology to woo their targets.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, several cultures among the Loads and Loads of Races fit the trope. The Deltan, Efrosian, Argelian, Rianconi and Risian cultures are all examples (though they differ in how they express it). The trope is explored in some depth in the Star Trek: Titan series. Xin Ra-Havreii is an Efrosian, a culture where respectful sexual contact between work colleagues (or anyone you find attractive) is perfectly acceptable, indeed celebrated. Ra-Havreii also calls the Rianconi an “enlightened culture” upon discovering they’re the same. However, another character, Aili Lavena, complicates the trope. Her race exist in two life phases- an amphibious youthful/breeder stage and an aquatic form later on. The aquatic form is an Ethical Slut culture, but those in the amphibian stage are supposed to dedicate themselves to family life and avoid such sexuality. Lavena gave in to temptation and essentially tried to be an Ethical Slut too early, abandoning responsibility to her children. As such, she is now an Ethical Slut who is a non-Ethical Slut.
  • And the Star Wars Expanded Universe has the Zeltrons. Pink-skinned, empathic humanoids who can manipulate their pheremones. Because of their empathy, they want everyone in range to be contented. The culture also considers monogamy to be quaint, but archaic. So long as everyone involved has consented and is enjoying themselves, what's the problem? It may also say something about Star Wars, though, that there seem to be a lot of "deviant" Zeltrons who treat the pain of others like a drug. They also tend to be attracted to Force-Sensitive characters, like Luke.

  "All of you grew up on Zeltros, where the rule is to love everyone and have fun... and if you have to kill, do it quickly and cleanly."

  • The characters in, well, anything by Tamora Pierce tend to embrace this philosophy, even if they don't actually sleep around much. Might be best demonstrated by Alanna, who had monogamous relationships with three different people, each ending for different reasons, before going back to the second guy. There are, of course, people who hate her for that.
  • The nymphs in Pierce Anthony's Xanth series.
  • People from the Summer Islands in A Song of Ice and Fire behave like this. Making love is great and honors the gods and religions which say otherwise must worship demons. It also applies to the northern wildlings, albeit to a lesser extent and with different reasons.
  • This seems to be an inherent part of the planet Beowulf's culture in David weber's Honor Harrington series. ironically the only person from Beowulf we've actually met is Honor's mother who is happily married to her father, although she enjoys tweaking the noses of the more repressed Manticorans.
  • This along with Beware the Nice Ones is pretty much the "hat" of The Culture. One of the best examples in the series is probably Diziet Sma of Use of Weapons whose pursuit of casual sexual encounters in no way detracts from her status as a relatively decent person and ultra competent operative. That being said, sexuality in the Culture isn't uniformly positive, and for instance, several of the protagonists of the novel Excession fall into the more negative Casanova trope.
  • This mentality seems to be the norm in Terre d'Ange.
  • Miette from Malevil, a French Sci Fi novel set after World War III. She's the only woman in a castle with six men. Because she's kind and understands her Gender Rarity Value situation, she chooses to sleep with each man in a nightly rotation to keep everyone happy.
  • Genji from The Tale of Genji qualifies as one in the standards of the time. Even though he was married and had many, MANY affairs (including one with his adopted daughter), the fact that he supported the women and (usually) only had an affair with one woman at a time made him 'moral'


Live Action TV

  • Boston Legal seems to be filled with this, most prominent being Alan Shore and Denny Crane.
  • Star Trek ought to be full of these, considering that the entire Federation is designed as a Free-Love Future and the frequently mentioned planet Risa is a Planet of Hats of this trope. And yet, the writers[1] seem to have limited themselves to one (token) Ethical Slut per series.
    • Captain James T. Kirk fills this role in the original series. And how!
    • Star Trek the Next Generation could be said to have two, although both are very toned down: Riker and Troi.
    • In Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax has this attitude, although it's not a major part of the character like it was with Kirk. Bashir, on the other hand...
      • Considering that she was an amalgamation of many different people, male and female, due to her heritage (Dax passing one life into another through her implant), she kinda had to be an ethical slut because she's both male and female.
    • In Star Trek Voyager, Tom Paris is this kind of character -- although he stops living it out once he gets a permanent and very monogamous girlfriend (and later wife).
    • In Star Trek Enterprise Doctor Phlox has multiple wives, each having multiple husbands other than himself; this is apparently standard for his race. He also encouraged Trip to take a roll in the hay with one of his wives that had come to visit. Trip, being a Southern Gentleman (sometimes), refused, citing his views on infidelity. Phlox just shrugs with a "what an idiot" expression.
  • Angela in Bones.
    • Temperance would probably like to be and/or thinks she is, but comes off as more arrogant and selfish than ethical; she fails to inform her partners of the fact that she is seeing multiple men to fulfill different needs (which obviously offends and discomfits both), and rebuffs them firmly and quickly when they admit they would like to take on both roles.
    • In Temperance's case, it's less a matter of being an Ethical Slut as it is not believing that long-term monogamous relationships are possible, and not wanting to open herself up to the possibility of being abandoned(which given how her parents abandoned her as a child may be understandable). Her views on monogamy have clearly changed, as she has entered into a long-term relationship with Booth.
  • Blanche in The Golden Girls. Living in a time when the HIV scare was at its peak, she is incredibly promiscuous, but says in one episode that she is aware of the risks, and always uses protection and makes sure she knows her lover's full sexual history.
  • Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood is pretty much the embodiment of this trope, being a time traveller from a Free-Love Future.
  • Phoebe Buffay on Friends.
  • Alex Drake from Ashes to Ashes, though more in the first season than the later two. She has two one-night-stands in the first three episodes, and the only person shown having a problem with it is Gene (whose opinion shouldn't count, since he calls her a tart numerous times, and is fairly unapologetic about his objectification of her). Alex also objectively explains various sexual concepts to the team, such as BDSM, homosexual sex, and auto-erotic asphyxiation because she's a psychologist, and never once expresses disdain over someone else's kinks.
  • Most of the "Companions" (and ex-Companions) in Firefly qualify, except they have a guild and they usually expect to be paid.
  • Susie in Blue Heelers might count. Despite being a police officer, and rather upstanding one at that, she is rather open about her romance life, going through four or five different flings, including several of her co workers, in about a year.
  • Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H.
  • Micheal Scott in The Office.
  • Noah's Arc: Ricky, in sharp contrast to Noah.
  • Delinda Deline in Las Vegas.
  • Roz Doyle from Frasier was an excellent example of this — often the butt of wisecracks aimed at her rampant promiscuity, but always portrayed as a good person and never treated cruelly or disrespectfully by other characters because of it. Of course, the execs didn't understand that this trope's exists and forced the writers to impregnate her as punishment for being a whore.
  • Keisha from VH-1's Single Ladies is an unapologetic pleasure-seeker. She is less ethical than most of the other examples, but, ss we find out in one episode, she does draw the line at drinking age when at comes to sexual partners.
  • Colleen Mc Murphy on China Beach
  • Officer Cory Mac Namara on Pacific Blue
  • Samantha Jones on Sex and the City could have been the author of the Real Life book about this.


Music

  • Army Of Lovers in songs such as "Sexual Revolution".
  • Christina Aguilera, in songs like "Dirrty", "Can't hold us down" and "Still Dirrty".
  • Madonna, in songs like "Human Nature" and "Erotica".
  • Lady Gaga, played with in songs like 'Just Dance', as well as most of the songs on The Fame.
  • Garbage, or at least Shirley Manson, as evidenced by the song "Sex is Not the Enemy."
  • George Michael, in "I Want Your Sex". As per Word of God, "it's not about fucking, it's about ***ing within a relationship".
  • Salt N Pepa, with songs like "Let's Talk About Sex" and "None of Your Business":

 If I wanna take a guy home with me tonight

It's none of your business

And if she wanna be a freak and sell it on the weekend

It's none of your business

  • Tina Turner projects the image with the songs "Steamy Windows", "What's Love Got To With It" and "Afterglow".
  • K.T. Oslin's songs "I'll Get You Back", "Mexico Road", "Hey Bobby", "Younger Men" and "This Woman".

Tabletop Games

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons setting Scarred Lands, the partial loss of this trope is one of the cornerstones of defining the setting as a Crapsack World. In the backstory, the demi-goddess Idra and her followers were Chaotic Good and fit this trope perfectly. And... then... it... all... changed. Despite this, Idra and her followers are still much of Ethical Sluts. Technically she's now Chaotic Neutral, but her religion still places a lot of emphasis on love, and making sure both partners are satisfied. She doesn't care how extreme sexual exploration is, just so long as it's not non-consensual, dangerous or even just not enjoyed. However, they now also have a sadness and cold calculating streak they didn't have before, and there's more then a hint that the sluttery once done for mutual joy and happiness is now a facade for a more or less sinister conspiracy with goals hidden even from the other deities. See WMG.
  • In the Forgotten Realms, Sharess has this attitude as the Chaotic Good goddess of sex, pleasure, and cats. To her clerics, pleasure and the sharing thereof is an inherently good act and have a doctrine centered around bringing pleasure to everyone, especially those in need of a good time. Sharess began as a warrior goddess (and a goddess of cats) in the Mulhorandi pantheon, and slowly shifted into the pleasure-role after leaving for the main Faerûnian pantheon.
    • And, oh god, does it get annoying, given that she comes perilously close to sharing her name with Shar, goddess of, in essence, being The Vamp.
  • In the D20 Book Of Erotic Fantasy", Good characters can be raging sex-addicts, despite the stereotype of a "good person" waiting for marriage and performing strict monogamy afterward.
  • In the Old World of Darkness game Mage: The Ascension, most members of the Cult of Ecstacy are this.


Video Games

  • Linds from Date Warp. Comes across at first as a Depraved Bisexual but is later shown to be opposed to cheating and outright offended at the idea that he might take advantage of someone.
  • The Neverwinter Nights mod A Dance With Rogues gives us Pia, Joanna, and possibly the player.
  • Keenan Caine from the Visual Novel's take on Bliss Stage. This pretty much defines his character.
  • Assassin's Creed II takes this to the logical extreme with Sister Teodora - a nun who runs a brothel. She believes that men need happiness in body as well as soul. And she was apparently a real person.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: Cass, daughter of Cassidy, drinks hard, plays hard, and is pretty brazen and unapologetic for it. But she's the only character who will call you out for doing wrong, rather than simply opposing their personal agenda or politics. If your character is ethical, she'll even trust your support of the Legion.
  • Zevran in Dragon Age Origins is an assassin Son of a Whore, and incessant flirt; in fact he starts testing the waters with the Warden from the moment he thinks his life may be spared. However, trying to carry on a relationship with both him and Alistair or Leliana leads him to lecture you about toying with their feelings, and putting him in the awkward situation of being "the other man". As he puts it, "I may be a lot of things -- a killer, a lover... but I'm no cheat."
    • Isabela would deny having ethics at all, but she's really afraid of falling in love. In DAO she casually invites the Warden and anyone interested, including Zevran, to get carnally acquainted in her quarters, and will seize the repeat opportunity with Zevran in Dragon Age II. She's also fiercely protective of Merill's feelings, and will break off relations with the Champion with a warning not to hurt her.
    • Leliana is probably the best example, with her half-hippie attitude. Bisexuality, threesomes, foursomes, it's all good as long as we're having fun and making each other happy. Now, when the relationship gets serious... you don't go cheating on her.


Web Comics

  • Dora Bianchi in Questionable Content is an excellent example of an Ethical Slut, albeit one in a committed, monogamous relationship. Still, this characteristic reveals itself by her willingness to address and discuss sexual concerns. Interestingly enough, her being an Ethical Slut doesn't stop her from having relationship issues, for example an almost pathological jealousy and suspicion of any woman who may appear to be trying to steal her man (the uber-example perhaps threatening Cosette with a broadsword for innocently revealing that she had a crush on Marten)
  • Brandi in Penny and Aggie, in addition to her kindness and general desire to avoid conflict, has, for a teenager, an atypically mature, confident and unapologetic attitude towards her casual sex encounters.
  • In Order of the Stick, Sarah Greenhilt (Roy's mom) becomes adorably slutty after her own death, when she finds out that the first tier of the Lawful Good paradise is a Free Love Afterlife (as well as a lot of other things, with theological/philosophical aspects that are off-topic to this trope). Roy finds this particularly embarrassing when he dies and hangs out with her while waiting for resurrection. Especially since she looks much younger than him and really hot.
  • in Sabrina Online, the porn star Zig Zag is portrayed as a really good person. Her coworkers are likely to hold the same high ethical standards as well, but the readers don't get to know them well enough to tell. She's portrayed similarly in the old run of Badly Drawn Kitties; she goes beyond flirtiness to pushiness, but when Lydia points out that she (Lydia) already has a boyfriend, Zig immediately backs off, saying "You can take away someone's inhibitions, but you can't take away love."
  • The drow of Drowtales in general have this point of view, but the Sullisin'rune clan are the exemplars of it. They're known for throwing lavish parties where everyone has a good time, usually with multiple partners, but they're also very careful that everyone is being treated right, and their Illhar'ess, Ash'waren, is infamous for her Really Gets Around lifestyle.
    • Not to be confused with the Drow of the Forgotten Realms setting, who normally are Straw Hedonists instead.
  • Miriam from Out There is a quasi-Ethical Slut; a promiscuous past is strongly hinted at, and she seems to be constantly at odds with the question of continuing along that path, or abandoning it. Her trepidation with the Ethical Slut lifestyle seems to be based not on moral or societal grounds, but with the fact that she finds it ultimately unsatisfying.
  • Scarlet Blut from Pleasure Bon Bon mixes this with Friendly Neighborhood Vampire.
  • Marena from Keychain of Creation is an example of this trope.
  • Maytag from Flipside argues this increasingly throughout the comic, although she ended up cheating on Bernadette.
  • Roomie, of Go Get a Roomie is a shining example of this trope. There are others in this comic that fit the trope, but none really nail it like her.

Web Original

  • The Savage Love Sex advice column by Dan Savage promotes this kind of worldview. More specifically, he advocates for a policy of "GGG," which stands for "Good, Giving, and Game." Basically, people in relationship need to be both aware of what their partner likes and what squicks them out, and work out a compromise somewhere in the middle. He also advises adventurism in sex
  • Amaranth from Tales of MU is a nymph, and personifies this trope. Nymphs are naturally extremely promiscuous, but she also spends a lot of time strengthening her girlfriends' polyamorous relationships and encouraging safe sexual exploration among her friends. She's naturally opposed to the concept of "sexual shaming" and believes that the world would be a much better place if people allowed themselves to admit and (consensually) explore their sexual desires.
  • In the MSF High Forums, this is the general opinions of GAN, and especially Seram. Interestingly, some of the Legion can also fall under this. Michelle, especially, has switched into this due to her girlfriend breaking up with her. (Via the player leaving the game).
  • The youtube video How To Win Every Game in League of Legends play it as a metaphor. In this video, the word slut is used in a positive sense, in a context where it refers to helping your teammates as if working closely together with one of them is like a relationship and working closely with all/any of them makes one a slut.
  • While the sex life of The Nostalgia Critic has a lot of issues, his song "Everyone's A Whore On Halloween" is basically celebrating, well, whore-dom from everyone.
  • The Nostalgia Chick is basically The Baroness in a non-military setting, but her only Berserk Button that's played (mostly) seriously is her hatred of slut-shaming.
  • The Pendorians of The Journal Entries are basically an entire civilization of these. They also have a cultural belief in the existence of evil and the duty of every member of society to excise evil by whatever means are necessary. People put up signs like this:

  This is a private residence. Any individual or group of individuals who do not immediately leave when asked to do so will be forcibly ejected without restraint on the part of the residents.

Notes

  1. (who, granted, have no direct experience of Roddenberry's visionary future and were probably uncomfortable with this aspect of his vision)
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