I must be in the minority: I was not especially shocked or devastated this week to hear that so-called Hollywood bachelor George Clooney is to wed his girlfriend, Amal Alamuddin. However, someone must be, because through no active research on my part, I have since become a somewhat authority on her academic background. In case you were wondering, in no particular order - the lady in question is a human rights lawyer; she has acted as a legal advisor to the King of Bahrain; she is a published author; she has been a UN advisor on Syria and on the use of drones and she speaks fluent French and Arabic: I would go as far to say that I know more about her career history than that of my nearest and dearest.
Why are her credentials proving news-worthy? In part, due to Clooney's apparent ambivalence to marriage following an ill-fated 1989 union and also because he has spent the subsequent years as most women's favourite imaginary boyfriend.
However, there's an element of social commentary here too: Alamuddin (and every other woman that has worked hard to sustain a career, academic passion or otherwise alongside a relationship) contradicts the self-help books, columnists and psychological surveys which advise that it is not possible to have it all, and more troublingly, that we should dumb ourselves down to land a partner before we wake up alone with nothing but Dickens for company.
Even more absurd than the opinions of men who admit they prefer their girlfriends to be less intelligent (The Wire) - "if [a woman] has a more flexible schedule, she'll be able to accommodate me," said one such hedge-funder - are the number of academic papers which suggest there are justifiable reasons why intelligent women have less dating success - including one with the conclusion that they actively undertake a 'cost-benefit analysis' and decide that undertaking academic study is more advantageous than meeting friends or dates: Every hard-working and dedicated woman I know would love to spend more time with friends and relatives and is often the first to share the fruits of her success with others.
As one friend (and business leader) told me: "One of the reasons I've chosen an intellectual and well-paid career path is to be able to financially support my children in the future. To suggest that as an intelligent woman, I'm not only less likely to be judged attractive to a potential partner, but also that I have selfishly decided to be intelligent, at the expense of all else, is offensive and ridiculous." Perhaps, the real reason more men supposedly end up with less intelligent women is that all the bright, vivacious females have simply run-a-mile in the presence of a male who would rather see them behind an ironing board, than sitting on an executive board.
Having cemented the attractive image of the silver fox years ago, let's hope George now becomes a mature trend-setter of the dating world.