Finally, men are wising up to smart women
Advertisement

Finally, men are wising up to smart women

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been separated since 2016.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been separated since 2016.

Photo: AAP

Ever since the world's most celestially beautiful duo uncoupled 18 months ago, amid allegations of his drug-taking and her disregard for their children's privacy, there has been speculation as to who might supplant the ambrosial Angelina Jolie in Brad Pitt's affections.

Before the ink had dried on the divorce petition, gossip rags were falling over themselves to link the 54-year-old heart-throb to actresses such as Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and 21-year-old British starlet Ella Purnell, currently in BBC drama Ordeal by Innocence. So it is only to be expected that Pitt's latest rumoured paramour, despite being virtually unknown, could comfortably give the former Mrs Jolie-Pitt a run for her money with her chiselled cheekbones and tumbling tresses.

Not that Neri Oxman, the raven-haired beauty in question, is likely to waste much head space on such frivolous considerations. For rather than a wide-eyed ingenue, Oxman is a 42-year-old professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the world's top-ranked university. She also happens to be an award-winning artist whose work has been displayed in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Despite rarely having ventured outside the pristine waters of the Hollywood dating pool – before Jolie, he was married to Jennifer Aniston and he counts Gwyneth Paltrow and Juliette Lewis among his exes – Pitt is reportedly "smitten" with the Israeli-born professor, whom he is said to have met after seeking her expertise on an architectural project. The pairing is all the more extraordinary given that the actor has cultivated an image as something of a himbo, playing a series of delectable but dim characters in films such as Burn After Reading, as well as admitting to smoking "too much" marijuana.

Advertisement
Architecture professor Neri Oxman.

Architecture professor Neri Oxman.

Photo: Supplied

It seems, however, that Pitt is just the latest silver screen hunk to have swapped actresses for academics, in what has been called "the Clooney effect".

For it was the actor's close pal who started the trend five years ago, when he swept Oxford-educated barrister Amal Alamuddin off her (blue) stockinged feet. The romance signalled a shift among Tinseltown's leading men, a group never previously known for valuing a woman's IQ points over her vital statistics.

As well as the Clooneys, now parents to nine-month-old twins, there is Eddie Redmayne, who is married to Hannah Bagshawe – formerly the global head of PR at a financial media firm. Not to mention Benedict Cumberbatch, once named Empire's sexiest movie star, who has two sons with his Oxford-educated theatre director wife Sophie, and Inception actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is to married Silicon Valley robotics expert Tasha McCauley. Meanwhile, reformed philanderer Jude Law this year celebrates his third anniversary with Phillipa Coan, a business psychologist with a PhD.

While Pitt et al have, unsurprisingly, found partners who are as physically striking as they are cerebral, an increasing number of men are claiming that brains are the only body part they are interested in. According to reports, more people than ever are identifying as "sapiosexual": harbouring an attraction based on intellect, as opposed to appearance.

On dating site Plenty of Fish, more than 89,000 men identify as "sapiophiles", while Match.com and OKCupid have added "sapiosexual" as a category of orientation. There's even an entire dating app dedicated to them, Sapio, which according to its creator is aimed at singles "focused more on the mind and the heart than simply on looks".

It may all sound pretentious, but it's preferable to watching ageing lotharios lusting after models half their age, in the manner of Leonardo DiCaprio, whose dating history reads like a casting call for the Victoria's Secret show.

What is particularly encouraging about this courtship of alpha women is that their partners are content to bask in their glow, rather than feel emasculated. Certainly Clooney never seems to tire of waxing lyrical about Amal's achievements, which include representing Armenia at the European Court of Human Rights. He even makes jokes at his own expense, claiming in a recent Vogue profile, "She's the professional, and I'm the amateur" – which only makes him seem quietly self-confident.

Beyond Hollywood, it looks like the rest of the world's male population is catching up. A US study by Match.com revealed that 87 per cent of men would date a woman who was their intellectual, academic and economic superior – a statistic that flies in the face of generations of preconceived wisdom that men fear intelligent women.

In fact, I would posit there's never been a better time to be a single woman in possession of an academic qualification; even if it's no guarantee of equal pay in the workplace, at least it might bag you an A-list bachelor.

Telegraph, London