Nicki Minaj’s Sexist Run-In With Regis Philbin

Monica Potts at The American Prospect explains that it doesn't stop, or start, with Regis.

By Jamilah King Dec 03, 2010

If we had a daily hater post, this might be it. Rapper Nicki Minaj, who we’ve applauded in the past, is doing publicity rounds for her new album, Pink Friday. The 25-year-old rapper was recently dubbed the new "Queen of Hip Hop" by Rolling Stone. So what does she get for a guest appearance on "Regis & Kelly Today"? An old-fashioned pat on the ass from Regis. Monica Potts has more at Tapped:

What is Minaj to do? Unfortunately, if she wants a career, her only real choice is to smile and nod, as she does here, and compliment Philbin on his pink shirt. At least that’s the conventional wisdom, and it’s the conventional wisdom Minaj and many women before her have absorbed themselves. The sexualization of women working for success in all different fields of entertainment probably dictates a lot of the artistic choices they make as well. Though apologists want to use form-fitting outfits or overtly sexual lyrics as excuses for behavior like Philbin’s, the truth is those things are symptoms, not the causes, of sexism.

The truth is this is also the kind of overly casual, overly familiar sexualization commonplace on morning TV. There’s something about the stereotypes of those who watch these shows — that they’re nonsexual, middle-aged housewives or female retirees — that excuses these kinds of exchanges as nonthreatening, even when they are clearly out of bounds. Philbin’s actions stand out because they’re so over the line, but it’s equally offensive that Ripa is so ready to remark on her curvature, as if the primarily female audience watching at home has nothing better to do than ogle Minaj’s tiny waist with envy.

As Potts points out, this type of thing happens every day. Elizabeth Mendez Berry recently tackled one variation of the sort of casual, constant sexism women face with her recent op-ed on street harassment.  Mendez Berry writes:

Despite the fact that it touches almost all women, gender-based street harassment isn’t considered a social problem in the way that, for example, racially-motivated street harassment is. Many believe that women should just relax and enjoy the commentary. And many of us do appreciate a poetic compliment from a respectful man. But the problem is that a "Good morning, beautiful" can instantly become "Go to hell, bitch" if the gentleman in question doesn’t take rejection well.

Of course, Philbin’s transgression carries with it slightly different implications than those random street encounters. He’s the well known white male host of a syndicated morning talk show. Still, his actions fall along a shameful spectrum that rarely gets called out.