I feel like the obvious answer should be a resounding "YES!!", but public perception from all sides seem to say "no" (just read the comments on the original Washington Post article).
It's this question that bothers me: Are women allowed to be well-rounded human beings? I want to say yes because that's my personal experience (and that of the women I surround myself with) -- I can work full time in higher education, wear retro clothing, sew, bake, read YA books, talk politics, talk religion, drink wine, create feminist artwork, take no shit, be an autism advocate, a mom, an adventurer... no one role or experience negates another.
But that's the "real" me that my closest friends and family know, not my public persona. Is it actually possible to acturately present, and be accepted for, all of that by the masses? I often wonder do the folks who come by to read about feminism really want to read about my nerdy obsessions? Do the bookworms really want to see my retro outfit posts? Do my opinions carry less weight because I also post about my love of a good retro hairstyle? Does one post somehow lessen the effect of the other? Not fitting into one niche has always been a problem for me, at least on the interwebs, so it's often on my mind.
"Such dated arguments assume that women are incapable of being both informed and fashionable, that to be a woman of substance and gravitas, to be taken seriously by her peers, she must subordinate her appearance and interests outside the office. Is it so inconceivable that a smart, accomplished woman would have both the latest issue of the Economist and the second season of “The Mindy Project” downloaded on her iPad?"
This idea that spending time watching the CW or shopping for clothes somehow invalidates a women's thoughts and feelings on "important" topics is infuriating. If you dress like a 50's housewife, you can't possibly be a serious lawyer or professor. Being a doctor means you shouldn't wear cute clothes or go out for drinks in your free time. If we can't fit you in a nice little box, we disregard you or try to invalidate you.
But let's be honest: how many of us aren't guilty of judging a book by its cover? Social constructs tell us that women interested in clothing are to be taken less seriously than women who could give a hoot about clothing, hair, and makeup. It's bullshit, but we all do it. We may shake our heads to dislodge that initial thought, but it's a conscious choice we have to make to look past the surface.
There's no getting it right, is there? Care too much about how you look and we call you a slut, an airhead, vain. Don't spend enough time on your appearance and we call you lazy, ugly, manly, dowdy.
So what's a woman to do? For me it means accepting the fact that there's little I can do about people judging me. All I can do is continue to be authentically me, which will (I hope) draw in other like minded folks. It also means never fitting into one particular niche, and you know, I'm ok with that. I'm just going to continue being the awkward, retro loving, creative, book reading, feminist ranting, nap taking, wine drinking, tv watching, curious, working mum that I am.
And if somebody wants to insist that I'm somehow less of a feminist because I like clothing or watched all six seasons of Gossip Girl over a few weeks, well fuck it, that's their problem, not mine.