Could it be? Is the bimbo brigade over? After a string of hot-babe girlfriends with backgrounds in Dancing With the Stars and bikini modeling, George Clooney has reportedly proposed to a tri-lingual, Oxford-educated lawyer, Amal Alamuddin, who's also totally stunning. Go George!
The media has been palpably panting over this news, citing Alamuddin as (finally!) an intellectual match for Clooney. In Us Magazine's coverage of the engagement, an anonymous source is quoted as saying, "Amal is such a sweet and intelligent girl, who has her own thoughts and ideas and doesn't just bow down to everything he says." The "oh wow, she's smart and stuff!" narrative echoes early media treatment of the pair's relationship; when news first broke that the two were dating, writers dropped details such as "she's very smart and can hold a conversation" (what a revelation!).
There are two problems with this, though.
First, it's not entirely fair to assume his exes were all air-heads (e.g., I probably shouldn't start stories with lines like "Is the bimbo brigade over?" Bad feminist, bad!) They may have had backgrounds in things like wrestling (Stacy Keibler) and model shoots (pretty much all of them), but that doesn't necessarily mean they couldn't hold a conversation. We don't know them at all, so we have no grounds to render this judgment.
Second, there remains an undercurrent of sexism even in coverage of this objectively accomplished woman.
Here's how Us Magazine kicked off its story about Clooney's getaway with Alamuddin in Seychelles near the beginning of their relationship: "Amal Alamuddin is one lucky lady." Considering he kicked it in an exotic locale with a gorgeous brainiac, wasn't Clooney pretty lucky too? This also suggests Clooney paid for the trip—hence, her being lucky to go—but we have no idea how much Alamuddin may have contributed financially. She's a high-powered lawyer, remember? She has a wallet, too.
YourTango makes sure to say Alamuddin "may be the brainiest girl" Clooney's ever been with and lists all sorts of interesting facts to that end. Yet it ends with an anecdote about how "beautiful" she is and a nudge-nudge comment from a friend that "he sure knows how to pick 'em." Yes folks, she's brainy...but more importantly, she's smokin' hot, too!
People's list of "fast facts" about Alamuddin, which it is re-running in the wake of the engagement news, starts strong with four points highlighting details like her impressive credentials and activist work. But it ends with this insightful detail: "She's a sex symbol." The proof? Some random Tumblr blog bestowed her with the "honor" of being "London's hottest female barrista" (a type of lawyer in England). Great "fact" guys!
Obviously, there's nothing wrong with correctly noting that a smart lady can also be beautiful (who knew?!) But framing Alamuddin as a "lucky" "sex symbol" who George "sure knew how to pick" is not honoring her legitimately impressive credentials by any stretch of the imagination.
In other words? We may see her as brainy arm candy, but that's still a kind of arm candy.
Image of George Clooney listening to me say something really smart (*fantasy, not real): Stefano Malandrino/Flickr