I realize that this post is going to be at least partially based on bitterness, because I try to hard to be perfect–the girl with the perfect nails whose apartment is always clean and welcoming, even when you drop by unexpectedly; the perfect girlfriend who gets her boyfriend amazing gifts and blows his mind every night. Obviously, I fail hard. My nails are not only chipped constantly, but I chew on my cuticles and the sides of my nails so they’re pretty gross. My apartment, on the other hand, isn’t gross by any means, but I live with boys and we both work part time, so it’s not perfect by a long shot. It’s certianly not worth a photo blog of how wonderfully I’ve decorated it. As for the boyfriend…lets discuss that another time, over wine.
All this is simply to set up why I hate Ayla so goddamn much. Everything she does is so unbelievably perfect. Even when she does something so clearly hurtful to those around her–like going off with Ranec when Jondalar is waiting for her–isn’t out of spite, but ignorance to the ways of her new people. She simply assumes that she has to be sexually available to everyone, all the time–it has nothing to do with her relationship with Jondalar! As a writer, I have to admire Auel’s ability to create a woman who manages to be open to all men and not come across as a huge whore to our 21st-century Puritan-based values. That doesn’t mean I can’t still hate her, however. I can barely keep myself awake when my boyfriend gets to bed, much less wake myself up every time he gropes me throughout the night, or be sexually available to whomever wants me, whenever he wants me.
This brings me to the second, slightly less bitter, issue that I have with Ayla. She is such a contradiction to the feminist side of me (the right 3/4s, if you were curious). On one hand, she is obviously strong–physically and mentally–and self sufficient, and doesn’t need a man around her. She lived alone for 3 years, for chrissakes. But as soon as a man shows up, she goes back to being diffident and subservient. As I said eyarlier, I kind of admire Auel’s ability to make Ayla this anti-feminist in such a natural way–it was how she was raised, after all–but that doesn’t make it less uncomfortable for me. She somehow manages to be a misogynists wet dream–subservient, sexually available, unbelievably beautiful, and committed to quietly fulfilling the every need of the men in her life.
So, there you have it. The reasons–both blatantly biter and honestly feminist–that I hate Ayla so much. I actually really like her in Clan of the Cave Bear, and blatantly adore her through Valley of the Horses, but as I get deeper and deeper into The Mammouth Hunters, I find it more and more difficult to enjoy her as a character.