Midler didn't accuse a particular pop star of crass behavior, but in a new interview she appeared to refer to Spears' recent "Work Bitch" music video in which she grinds in a bikini before cracking a whip at a woman crawling on the floor.
Midler told Katie Couric, "I think there's a difference between pushing the envelope sexually and pushing the envelope creatively. I think you can be as creative as you want to be and as inventive as you want to be... but I think the idea of whipping other girls... I don't know. There's a grossness to it that I think is not flattering to people, to the women themselves."
She added: "Not all the time, I'm not saying all the time because some people are very sensitive about the way they use their bodies and the way they use their sexual power. But I do think that when it's really gross, when it's really coarse, it's so demeaning, not just to them but to all women and I don't really like it. I don't like it."
Katy Perry has also spoken out about the recent proliferation of skin and sexually suggestive behavior in pop music.
"I'm not talking about anyone in particular. I'm talking about all of them. I mean, it's like everybody's so naked. It's like, 'Put it away. We know you've got it. I got it, too,'" she said.
"I've taken it out here and there. And I'm not necessarily judging. I'm just saying sometimes it's nice to play that card, but also it's nice to play other cards. And I know I have that sexy card in my deck, but I don't always have to use that card."