Where Do You Go At Night?

Austra’s song “Home” is infinitely relatable to anyone who has ever had a partner stray.

The lines “My body can’t rest unless you’re sleeping by my side/ You know that it hurts me when you stay away all night/ What is it that keeps you there?” are a pretty bare-boned plea for the lover to come home, because she can’t sleep or have peace of mind without them. The subtext of the song is that she’s worried about what her lover is doing, although it’s unclear what the particular worry is. Instinctively I would say that the concern is about infidelity, but the line “You know it hurts me when you can’t see straight at night” could indicate that the lover is out on a drug or alcohol binge. Either way, it’s a sad reminder that it’s often women who are left home to worry while their partner exerts the freedom not to be concerned about that particular heartache.

When women hook up with a male partner (The gender is ambiguous in the Austra song/video, so I’m going to project here) there’s a pressure to not be “that girl” that is perpetually nagging or making life a living hell for some dude with the dream to live out his life in excess. I think that’s sort of why these situations kind of strike a nerve, because the desire not to be the shrill, sitcom harpy is at conflict with the natural human desire to be treated with respect.

It brings to mind Melanie Fiona’s “4 a.m.”

Here, Fiona doesn’t mince words: “It’s 4 a.m. and my lover won’t answer/ He’s probably somewhere with a dancer/ Sippin’ champagne while I’m in his bed.” In this case the infidelity is clear, as she knows she’s being disrespected while her lover attends to another woman. Fiona’s anger and embarrassment (“It’s 4 a.m. and I think I might lose it/ This motherfucker thinkin’ I’m stupid”) are followed by her lamentations that the relationship ultimately will not work out because of his disregard for her (“I don’t deserve this life/ I’d make the perfect wife”).

Like Mad Men’s Betty Draper cooling telling Don “I waited for you” after he returns early in the morning, or countless other women (Probably a good chunk of the reason why so many women scream in excitement when Bernie burns her unfaithful husband’s clothes in Waiting to Exhale) who’ve had the same experience, there’s not a whole lot of dignity being left behind, or begging for respect from a partner. It’s both interesting and sad that that’s so easy to identify with.

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