When reading a text, is it possible to determine the true meaning of the text, or is meaning that which is in some way picked up on by the audience, regardless of what literary critics say? I ask because I've been reading lately about critiques of the portrayal of women in modern popular media. A lot of literary critics seem to think that women portrayed as strong, independant Amazon-like warriors are just playing into objectifying dominatrix fantasies, while a lot of fans of these works (like Xena, for example) think just the opposite - that these portrayals are empowering. So are the literary critics right, because they can presumably take apart the text more intricately and exactly, to find its true meaning? Or are the fans right, because regardless of the structure of the text, they feel empowered by it?
A question was asked last year, which had a different aim (but a very similar example). The responses, though, included ideas that should help you with your question: http://www.askphilosophers.org/question/3587