It was the image that provoked the biggest online debate during last night’s MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles.
Not Nicki Minaj undergoing a wardrobe malfunction, Miley Cyrus asking a homeless man to accept her award or Katy Perry dressed as Britney Spears, but a picture of Beyoncé performing in front of a giant neon ‘Feminist’ sign.
During her 15 minute performance, the singer used a sample from novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED speech “We should all be feminists” in her song “Flawless”.
Many took to Twitter to praise Beyoncé for promoting feminism through popular culture and for helping to break down the negative stigma surrounding the word.
However, others were concerned that the singer’s version of feminism appeared to have been interpreted as overt objectification, pointing to lyrics such as “Bow Down Bitches” and her sexually provocative dancing.
The singer reluctantly called herself a feminist in an interview with US Vogue last year, saying: “That word can be very extreme…But I guess I am a modern-day feminist.”
She was also criticised for calling herself Mrs Carter - after the surname of her husband Jay Z - on her world tour, when she had previously sung about being an "independent woman".
But earlier this year, the singer penned an open feminist letter about the myth of gender equality in response to findings that 42 million women in the US lived in poverty.
"Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters earn more - commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender," she wrote.
"Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect."
The singer starred in Sandberg's "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss" video, which encouraged people to stop using the word bossy in a derogatory way towards girls.
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