It was the image that provoked the biggest online debate during the 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.

They pointed to lyrics such as "Bow Down Bitches" and her sexually provocative dancing.

Read the tweets below:

I don't think beyonce is or should be considered the modern age face of feminism.

Beyoncé's performance was talking bout feminism and equality then her next song she's saying "bow down bitches" ???

Beyoncé, you're not a feminist. You sing the lyrics "If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it". That's the opposite of feminism

I keep seeing the whole Beyonce feminism thing, but wasn't it a few months ago she had lines that seemingly mocked domestic violence?

Beyoncé made it big through jay z and it's still ironic that she' markets herself as a huge inspiration for feminism. And you all eat it up.

Beyonce doesn't get to claim feminism while grinding on a pole while other performers are insulted for doing the same. #doublestandards

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 on her world tour, after the surname of her husband Jay Z, 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.

She also backed Sheryl Sandberg's 'Ban Bossy' campaign to empower girls to lead assertively without being called out for doing so.

- Independent