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Regis Philbin, Nicki Minaj and Objectification as a Form of Gender-Based Violence

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Written by jaz for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Over the last week, I became moderately obsessed with blog posts and internet chatter about Regis Philbin and Nicki Minaj. If you don’t know, Nicki Minaj is the hottest commercial female emcee right now and she is both loved and hated because of her lyrical content, allusions to being a “Black Barbie,” and sexually explicit lyrics which at times reference her on-again/off-again bisexuality. She is often looked at as a Hip-Hop version of Lady Gaga because for each, their spectacle is a large part of their performance persona. A couple of weeks ago, Nicki performed on the Regis and Kelly show during Thanksgiving and things got pretty creepy during the interview when Regis grabbed Nicki’s butt and waist. Yes, on national live television. Here’s the clip so you can be the judge for yourself. (For extra fun, read the comments)

I’ve read a lot of great posts about this including one by Super Hussy that reasonably suggested that Regis and Kelly treated Nicki Minaj like a modern day Saartije Baartman. I also commend the Women’s Media Center for taking a stand and writing a letter to ABC denouncing Regis’s unacceptable on-air behavior. What many posts did not mention is Kelly’s inappropriate gushing over the size of Nicki’s waist. Kelly says that women are dying to know what size waist she has. Really? While it seems harmless and probably well-intentioned, it’s still an uncomfortable objectification of Nicki Minaj’s body, in particular her butt (note how she is amazed at her waist to hip ratio). At the end of the awkward conversation, Nicki says "Oh it's not that big," implying she too understands that Kelly is actually fascinated by the size of her butt, not her waist. She is visibly uncomfortable but smiles through it. There is a clear gender dynamic at play but also a racial one. Would Regis be feeling up on Lady Gaga like that? Would Kelly be so amazed at Gaga's tiny waist and frame? I was waiting for them to gush at any moment, "You're so exotic!" Read more