Normally, when I do profiles, I keep my nose the fuck out of everyone's love lives. The farthest I'll go is generally, "They got married, I've seen pictures, they look happy," or "She shares custody with her first husband, she talks about it in this interview, they sound pretty amicable." I consider it very much none of my business, to the point where I get rather uncomfortable reading through trash-mag accounts of who is dating whom and how much of a train wreck they are together. There are a few couples I'll point out on a casual basis, just because they're very public and I think they're wonderfully hilarious together, but by and large it makes me squirmy in the same way paparazzi photos do.

On the other hand, sometimes one of them writes a book about it.

Mrs. Misha Collins -- Vickie -- is actually Dr. Victoria Vantoch, PhD, University of Southern California. She's a sex and gender historian, and I don't know why I haven't heard of her before, because her work intersects squarely with one of my academic interests. She's written two books, the most recent of which is a feminist-aware history of airline stewardesses. Vantoch is also more sociologist-y than anthropologist-y in style; she has a personal connection to the topic, which she mentions quite forthrightly in the body of the work, rather than in a preface or in an acknowledgements page. Unusually, she's also willing to treat the topic of female beauty and it role in activism, which is something I find rather lacking in most analyses. There's a lot on how the pressure to meet cultural standards of beauty is ruinous for people who can't or who do it despite not really wanting to, and a lot on how weird and arbitrary fashion really is, but not a lot on how attractiveness, frankly, gets a lot of goddamn attention, which can actually be used to effect change. The way everybody else talks, it's like push-up bras are some sort of magical anti-activism voodoo. This might have something to do with her being really outspoken, and also really adorably nerd-librarian cute.

The first book, however, is the more infamous. It's called The Threesome Handbook, which probably tells you why. Fandom is fairly well-informed about its existence, but apparently only like two people have actually read the thing, because it is way more interesting than tumblr lets on. As you might guess, it's a more than reasonable guide to threesomes, covering how to figure out who's a good bet for picking up, how not to be an inconsiderate ass before, during, and after, and even including a lot of helpful NSFW line art about the intricacies of geometry when dealing with a dozen limbs in one bed. The OT3 writers on Archive of Our Own should be using this thing as a reference guide. On a scale of "tax audit" to "dying of laughter", she rates about "Dan Savage" on the hilarious snark-o-meter, and her main advice for absolutely everything is TALK ABOUT STUFF, which is pretty much always a good idea.

She also has a section near the end, about what to do if you find your playdate is starting to turn into a date-date. It's one of the few points where she shares a few personal details of her own. She fell in love with her (female) best friend, and then her husband did, too. I don't know if this is still the state of affairs -- the book is copyright 2007 -- but some of her other mentions indicate the relationship balanced out pretty equally in the end, and she has no personal comments when she talks about how to handle the break up of a triad. She uses no names, but she and Collins were high school sweethearts, as far as I can find she's never been married to anyone else, and she thanks her husband "M." in the acknowledgements. Draw your own conclusions.

I've been wrestling with myself for a few days on whether to post anything about this at all. Mainly what tipped me was that she writes a few words at the very end about ultimately making the decision to tell people about it, and how she admires the courage of others who have done so. Collins doesn't seem to have asked his fans to leave his family out of their madness, particularly; I mean, he has got these up on YouTube. He posted photos to Twitter when they threw a release party for her second book. Vantoch did publish her Handbook under her real name, presumably knowing full well that anyone who already anything about her would know exactly who she was talking about. Her husband wasn't famous yet at that point, but he was a working actor, and she had an academic career to take into account when thinking it over. I have no idea who the other woman is, and I'm not going to dig.

I don't think I have any right to have opinions on this, since it's not my life. I do anyway. Specifically, my opinion is that she should never have had to worry about it, because there's nothing wrong with it, and it's retarded -- in the literal sense of lagging behind, as in socially late to the whole enlightened-tolerance thing -- that she had to think that hard in the first place. The fact that this is public and there is no kerfuffle among the many quite mad people who tumbl the hell out of all things Supernatural gives me a little bit of hope. My generation has fucked up in many, many areas, but one of the things I'm kind of proud that we've done is that we've collectively decided "Queer people: Not a big deal, why are you so worked up over this?" and frankly I'm rather hoping we'll follow that up with "Non-traditional relationships: Everybody's happy, let's go get a beer."

My other main opinion is that it's downright hilarious how much effort Collins doesn't put into covering up that his brain rather works this way. One of his standard answers to the warring shippers in SPN fandom is to suggest that Sam and Dean and Cas just wander off and all live together, assuming they survive whatever the series throws at them. Making out with Rachel Miner ranks among his fonder memories of shooting the show. He has some stories about shooting the scene where Dean drags Cas to a brothel. He doesn't seem to be telling tales on himself out of shame for having damn near given himself whiplash getting a load of a soundstage of attractive extras dressed, literally, as whores; he just thinks it's funny that a room full of tits completely wrecked his ability to pay attention. He is supremely shrug about Jensen Ackles being all over him in front of cameras at conventions, and only dodges Sebastian Roché's attempts to cheerfully molest him when he thinks it would be more entertaining that way. There are a lot of people he doesn't do this with, so it is all according to his comfort level, and that of the person he's pawing -- his 'comfort level' just encompasses an awful lot, even for performing arts people.

(Before any of y'all go trying this on strangers, I hasten to add that none of his behavior is indicative of any particular details of his love life -- it's just all consistent with someone who is secure in the idea that paying a great deal of attention to strangers and faffing about physically with his friends is not going to strike his wife as per se inappropriate, which is also a standard feature of people in open or polyamorous relationships that are not dismal storms of drama. It's also consistent with a perfectly vanilla monogamous guy who has no particular hangups about traditional gender behaviors, and whose spouse happens to not be upset by this. It's noticeable because it affects the way he interacts with other humans in public. I'm told he tends to bowl people over, in person. I can certainly see it; he's ridiculously smart but a lot less attention deficit OH HEY LOOK A SQUIRREL than Moggie's crushes normally are, and since he also seems to lack that nagging voice in the back of his head that makes most people fear they are paying too much attention to the randos, that is a hell of a lot of focus to get hit with while he's also rambling.)

Another interesting point of note is that he's pretty much playing Castiel this way as well. Cas gets really upset if it looks like he's losing his connection with Dean, but as long as he's assured that he has it, he doesn't seem to care at all who else Dean pays loads of attention to. It's the only long-term outside emotional link Dean's ever been able to maintain while also around his deeply co-dependent family, at least that we've seen. Cas knows enough about humans that he thinks it might be smart not to mention to Sam that he likes Dean way better, and to know why Dean thinks there will be trouble when the victim's wife finds out about the victim's girlfriend, but he also doesn't seem to expect there to be trouble between Sam and Dean when he does clarify, and he has no real reaction when the expected trouble between the wife and the mistress doesn't materialize. Dean is in the other room when Meg makes a pass at him, and Cas doesn't seem to think she's doing anything personally or socially wrong, he doesn't turn around and look at the door like he's nervous they'll be overheard, and he doesn't look guilty when they're interrupted by plot, even though he sounds rather like he's going to accept.

Food for thought.

Comments