Baubo and the “Nasty Girl” in Cinema

I am at a party and all the men are staring at me. Not for reasons of looks, apparel or poorly applied makeup, to be sure. I have just had a loud and frank discussion with my lady friend about if tampons were bacon scented. My argument is that if these existed men would have no problem with a woman’s time of the month. You must have bacon to go with eggs, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day. My best friend to whom I have presented this theory starts laughing, but obviously I have made an error in judgement: this is not the culturally relevant time to discuss this.

You’ve seen it make a tremendous return to the movies. Melissa McCarthy declares a delicious lack of awareness as to the direction of her bodily function. Rebel Wilson declares “lez-be-honest” and makes a pitch perfect argument. You mostly find these nasty gals in romantic comedies, fringe characters who show up with a memorable inappropriate remark. Ellen Dow, the elderly lady in The Wedding Singer who takes lessons from Adam Sandler, lays down some Sugar Hill gang and steals the spotlight from other minor characters in the film.

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“ You can’t expect him to live forever with his sister and the nipple-twisting that goes on there.” – Rose, the Wedding Singer

Usually these characters are who we remember when we leave the movie because their impulsive language tests our boundaries of propriety. Typically voluptuous, aged, or overly sexualized – these characters say what they mean and don’t care if it’s massively erotic or awkward. They make us feel danger because of what they are saying, but their actions of impropriety make us feel like we want to be around them – these improper women who take us out of ourselves and our expected cultural dimensions.

So what do these women all share? What is the divine story inside them that makes us feel their laughter as our own?

In Greek mythology, there is a character named Baubo that is never truly mentioned in most reciting of the Demeter myth. She is known as the old vulva woman, one who would explore vaginal exposure for a laugh. In short, your nasty gal best friend. She is the goddess of transformative belly laughter, the kind that leaves you in tears. She brings forth the joy that leaves you sore from delight. She is the nasty gal of the spiritual realm.

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Roman Statue of Baubo flashing her erogenous zone. Anything for comedy.

The story goes that Demeter was wandering through the forest, searching for her daughter Persephone. Persephone had been taken by Hades into the underworld, and as a result Demeter, barley goddess of the seasons, created an endless winter with her sadness. Along comes Baubo, seeing the Goddess in trouble. As a way to make her smile, Baubo flashes her vagina to Demeter and makes her laugh. She wipes the tears from her face. Demeter finds the strength to keep searching for her daughter, and carry on through tragedy.

What makes this Baubo figure impactful in cinema? Usually when the lead character is in her darkest hour, ready to give up the fight, the Baubo of the movie shows up and makes us all laugh with her. Before the lead character’s comeback, Baubo appears and breaks wind before us. She breaks dramatic tension with a Betty White frankness, and it is refreshing to the viewer.

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“If I showed you my vagina, would you hold it against me? I didn’t think so…”

Truth is, Baubo represents the locker room discussions that all women have. We are not delicate when it comes to discussion of our lady parts or any other capability that they have. Even the most proper woman on the exterior has felt a tug in her panty hose and wanted to share the story with her friends. Every grotesque part of us is beautiful, and Baubo helps us celebrate that. And with feature films like Bridesmaids raking in 280 Million worldwide? Baubo is needed more than ever.

In that success story of female vulgarity, we get a beautiful pep talk from Megan, the movie’s Baubo. Saving the Demeter figure of Annie from her spiral downward, she lays some truth down. And its something we all need to hear through the ass biting, vagina flashing and tit punches:

“You can stop feeling sorry for yourself, okay? Cause I do not associate with people that blame the world for their problems. Cause you’re your problem, Annie. And you’re also your solution. “

So says the truthful Belly Goddess.

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“Could you lean in a little bit closer? I have a secret…”

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