Kate Beckinsale, as they say is my girl crush. It’s not her caramel hair, her beautiful smile, or the English rose-ness she has retained after years of Hollywood, it is her intelligence.

She studied at Oxford University. She speaks fluent Russian and can deliver waspish quips that are reminiscent of a 21st-century Dorothy Parker.

Her attractiveness is partly due to her intelligence. It was a surprise to see her speak of her brain last week as a hindrance, rather than an asset.

Beckinsale was repeatedly asked to reveal her intelligence by Howard Stern, a U.S. radio shock jock. On calling her mother live on the show, it transpired that, as a child, her IQ was measured at 152 — not Einstein levels but comfortably in the ‘highly gifted’ range.

Clare Forges explores how men's desire to be masculine attracts them to ditzy women, after Kate Beckinsale (pictured) suggested her intelligence hindered her career in Hollywood

Clare Forges investigates how men’s desire be masculine leads them to ditzy ladies, after Kate Beckinsale (pictured), suggested her intelligence hindered the success of her Hollywood career.

Gracefully, Beckinsale criticized Beckinsale’s impressive brainpower and suggested that her intelligence was more of a hindrance than a benefit to her Hollywood career.

Cue a chorus of derision: one website accused her of a ‘cringeworthy humble brag’, another jibed ‘sounds hard to be this hot and smart’. These pea-brained critics were, unwittingly underlining her point: a woman must be careful not display her intelligence lest it lead to her being criticized for being arrogant.

Beckinsale wrote furiously in response: ‘Are we really still requiring women to dumb themselves down in order not to offend?’ No woman, she stormed, ‘should feel they need to lie or dumb down under ANY circumstances so as not to be a target’.

Amen, sister. I have no idea what my IQ is but with a Masters degree, a few children’s books published and a former career as a No 10 adviser, I’d say I am cleverer than average. However, I have placed the emphasis on the average over being clever many times.

Why? Because we are attracted to what is different from our own sex from a young ages.

We learn that men don’t like nerds and bluestockings, know- it-alls and brainboxes. They love women who are ditzy, wide-eyed and clueless.

Beckinsale mentioned a survey which found that 60 per cent of women had ‘dumbed themselves down’ on a date in order to impress a man. I can well believe it, because I’ve done it myself.

In my single years, I was the chief speechwriter to David Cameron. Although I was proud of my position, I knew that it would be just as attractive to men as halitosis. They would make assumptions about me: that I was not feminine; that I would keep on talking politics. You have just switched from Daphne Velma to fiscal policy, Scooby Doo terms.

Kate (pictured) mentioned a survey which found that 60 per cent of women had ¿dumbed themselves down¿ on a date in order to impress a man

Kate (pictured) mentioned a survey which found that 60 per cent of women had ‘dumbed themselves down’ on a date in order to impress a man

It is embarrassing to admit that I often lied about my profession. I had three minutes to chat with each man on a speed dating night. I told them that I made teddy bears, that I was a tennis coach, and that I was a secretary.

It was quite funny, and we all went to the bar to continue our conversations. With one man prattling on to me about tennis and another about teddies, it wasn’t long before my fraud was exposed.

I’m ashamed to admit that the dumbing down even continued into some real relat-ionships. One of my boyfriends was very annoyed that I asked more questions than him during University Challenge.

Initially, I trilled the answers I knew happily: ‘Phosphorescence!’ ‘King Richard III!’ ‘Bruch’s First Symphony!’ This was fine if he was trilling, too, but I noticed he would fall into a glowering mood if I ‘won’. It was easier to keep shtum or admit to only knowing a few answers.

This is quite common for women, I think: we shrink to fit men’s desires. Many men would protest that they love intelligent, opinionated women — and I’m sure some do, but a fascinating survey from 2015 showed how fragile this attraction can be.

Researchers asked 105 men if they would like to date someone who had outperformed or underperformed academically. The men rated the women who outperformed them more desirable. So far, so feminist.

The second part of the study asked the men to take an intelligence test. They were then told that they would soon be meeting a woman who outperformed them on the test.

Clare Forges (pictured) said if some men perceive a woman to be weaker and more vulnerable, it stirs an ancient desire to defend

Clare Forges (pictured) said if some men perceive a woman to be weaker and more vulnerable, it stirs an ancient desire to defend

Faced with the prospect of a real-life smart cookie, the men ‘distanced themselves more from her, tended to rate her as less attractive and showed less desire to… plan a date with her’. The authors concluded that ‘feelings of diminished masculinity accounted for men’s decreased attraction towards women who outperformed them’.

And there we have it — the core reason why some men seem to be ‘triggered’, in Kate Beckinsale’s words, by female intelligence. It’s not straightforward misogyny. It’s a desire to be masculine.

Although it is controversial to say, men and woman are very different in many ways but are bound together by our biology. Women often enjoy being able to care for someone, mop brows, and visit sick beds.

Men are wired to want to protect. Men are more likely to feel threatened if they perceive women as weaker and more vulnerable.

It follows that a woman with three degrees and fluent Mandarin can be less vulnerable, less dependent on their protection, and thus, less attractive.

This isn’t true of all men, of course; George Clooney happily professes he is the ‘arm candy’ for his lawyer wife Amal — and my own husband, a surgeon, likes that we are clever in different ways.

Many men’s hearts are hardened by cleverness and melted at ditziness. For intelligent women, the answer is not to ‘shrink to fit’ as I used to do, but to be defiantly, proudly ourselves.