When a work is created, it is the product of the creator and the environment in which it was created. All that went into creating it, from interpretations, understandings, and ideals, are then fixed into place at the time of expression. With little exception, and at best only minor variance, a work is set for all time once it is put out into the ether. It is from here that the only thing that changes is how people view the work and come to understand it.
In creative works this can pose an extra layer of complexity. How do you define and interpret gender when you create a work? How does the audience define and interpret gender when they consume the work? Can there only be one definition of gender? If you're a boy, must you like "boyish" things? If you're a girl, must you like "girlish" things?
What defines a person's gender?
There is no easy answer to this question, especially given that works don't change over time. What a society may view as absolute when a work is created can be different from the society that consumes that work.
Take for example the following scene from Ranma 1/2:
How does this scene make you feel? How do you think others feel about it, especially someone of another gender?
Now, what if I told you that Ranma is actually boy, but magically transforms into a girls body when splashed with cold water? How does this change how you feel about this scene now? How about how others might now see it?
Exploring further, we can find a current work that using modern social media benefits us in seeing how things are interpreted such as youtube and the rise of the reaction videos. A good example of this in relation to our subject is Game of Thrones with the third episode of season 8, and the legend of Azor Ahai.
Let's take this exercise a step further. Say you like a particular work, but find out later that the creator(s) are people who's morals or actions you dislike or despise. How does that effect you view and interpretation of their work?
- Burn it?
- Ignore the creator and continue to enjoy fully?
- Acknowledge the issue, but still retain some enjoyment or positive feelings towards the work?
- Acknowledge the issue, but generally avoid the work when possible?
This is just a stab at the complexities of interpretation, especially ones of gender. I encourage you to explore more and how the way we think might impact how we interpret works. Please see more resources below, or read a paper I wrote about this subject.