#QSCelebratesWomen2024: International Women's Day Interview with Jingwensathome

"As men, we should stand up for women and support them against stereotypes and expectations. Listen to their stories and acknowledge the existence of individual injustices. Just because we don't see them doesn't mean they don't exist." - Bryan 

International Women’s Day (IWD) aims to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness of the discrimination faced by them and what can be done to achieve gender equality. 

At Quan Shui Wet Market, we have decided to make this a month-long campaign to bring more visibility to the challenges faced by women in SG and also start conversations on what more can be done to achieve gender equality. 

Through food, we are offering a month-long 10% discount on our All-in-one Recipe Sets to encourage cooking for the women in your life. Through this, we intend to break the stereotype that wives or moms need to be the ones in the kitchen to cook for the family, and instead that everyone in the household can contribute, regardless of gender. 

Additionally, on each Friday of this month, we will also be sharing some stories of the women that we work with, the challenges and stereotypes that they experience, and their insights on what more can be done for women. 

To kickstart our series for #QSCelebratesWomen2024, we spoke with Tiffany and Bryan, the duo behind the Instagram account @jingwensathome.

Tiffany and Bryan are both working, with Bryan travelling overseas quite frequently for work. 

In this blog post, we will take a look at how Bryan celebrates his wife and Tiffany’s views on how couples in a similar situation can support each other.

We are thankful for their time on a lovely Saturday afternoon and learnt so much about their lives as a couple, their approach to household responsibilities and views on gender stereotypes.

Could you introduce yourselves?

Hi, we are Tiffany and Bryan, also known as Jingwen because we have the same Chinese name. We also have four cats, August, Austin, Audi, and Auri. 

Tell us more about your Instagram account! How did the IG account @jingwensathome come about?

Initially, it started out when we were shopping for our first home together. It began as a home renovation IG account to document our journey, such as deciding between a resale and BTO, going through the ID selection process, and dealing with hiccups along the way. 

Now, after two years, it has evolved into more than just home stuff. I guess it's about how we live our lives, including our cats, and trying to bring value to people around us.

What kind of content can people expect when they follow your account?

How life is as a cat owner and first-time homeowner. There are so many things that you need to take note of that you previously didn’t really know about, like plumbing or electricity, or which vacuum is better.

I think a lot of young couples can probably resonate with who to pay for a new house, what to buy, what not to buy, and what services to use or not. These can be very helpful. 

Three words to describe what people can expect when they follow your account.

  • Cats - a lot of cats 
  • Adulting - adulting in Singapore
  • Recommendations

Who manages the IG account @jingwensathome? 

Tiffany: I manage the account, but Bryan supports me in some ways. Like if I need somebody to run an idea by, then I’ll check in with him. He also helps me vet the words and everything so I just feel more assured.

Bryan: I'm just an extra pair of hands for her and for her to bounce ideas off. If she needs someone to take a video of me and the cats, then I'm there. She plans out all the content and manages the account. 

Could you tell us a little bit about how you both handle things at home and how you split your responsibilities? Share what are your typical day-to-day tasks.'

Who cooks day to day? Tiffany

What about day to day cleaning? Do you all split? 

Tiffany: Not to the T, but somehow it has ended up being quite equal. Tiffany usually cooks and Bryan usually does the dishes. Tiff washes and hangs the laundry while Bryan brings in and folds the clothes.

Who feeds the cats? Whoever's around. Both as well.

Let’s play a game with the cats. Do they have a preferred pawrent? 

If each of you held treats in your hands, who would the cats go first? 

Result: Tiffany won! 

  • Bryan - Auri 
  • Tiffany - Gus and Audi 
  • [Error 404: Austin not found]

Bryan, what are three adjectives you would use to describe Tiffany?

  1. Diligent
  2. Independent -  she's an independent thinker
  3. Generous

Bryan: Anyone who knows Tiff through her life, knows that she consistently stays on top of things and gets things done. This applies to her studies, her work, her IG account, being a wife, or being a cat mother. So, I think that’s her superpower. She’s diligent.

Those who follow her on Instagram might see that she breaks down quite often, and that happens to her as an individual. But somehow, when it comes to her responsibilities and things around her, she will get them done. She will make sure that they meet her standards. And her standards are pretty high.

As a husband, how do you celebrate your wife, Tiffany, and how do you contribute to your daily life together?

Bryan: Since I travel often for work, I prioritise all my time with Tiff whenever I’m back.

When it comes to chores, I do more than my fair share as I try to make up for the days that I was not in Singapore. For example, her friends just came over last night and it's her gathering, but I cleaned up after them just so they can spend more quality time together.

For International Women’s Day, I decided to celebrate my wife and cooked Quan Shui Wet Market’s Bone-In Pork Chops Set, which is one of our go-to favourites. It’s foolproof, so if I can cook this, so can you. To complete the feast, I also made Rosti, which was my first time making it, including roasted vegetables with broccoli and asparagus.

What about you Tiffany? What are the things Bryan does to contribute to your daily life and celebrate you as a wife? 

Tiffany: Oh I can think of so many things he has done for me, even small things like thanking me for cooking before we start eating, which has become a habit. 

Also, whenever I create content for @jingwensathome, he helps me vet ideas or gives input. Whenever I'm stuck, he steps in and we bounce ideas off each other. Even though creating content isn't something he enjoys, he does it because it's important to me. 

What do you think are some stereotypes and expectations that women in SG face? 

Tiffany: I feel that single women might face a lot more harsh comments and questions like "Oh, you better find a man soon" while for a single man, people would inherently think more positively, viewing him as a career-focused and career-driven individual.

Bryan: This is a tough one. I doubt I can answer this one well so I’m hoping I can divert everyone to the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s ‘The Man’. 

How do you think Tiffany performs against these expectations?

Bryan: As shared earlier, one adjective that I’d describe Tiffany with is her independent thinking. Those who know her would have seen her go against certain norms or expectations at some point in her life. And when doing so, she’s not embarrassed or shameful about it. She simply does what she believes is right. 

It seems that the tasks done at home are split quite evenly with both of you doing a fair share of housework! 

What do you think others in SG can do more for women to emulate the both of you? And what can men in SG do more for women in SG?

Tiffany: I think everybody needs to understand that IWD is not against men.

Some people have the wrong impression, I think the first step for everybody is to understand  as a baseline, and acknowledge that there are still stereotypes regarding women belonging in the household or kitchen. On the flip side, because of this, we must also acknowledge the stereotypes placed on men, how they are not supposed to show their feelings or be sensitive.

If men and women both try to understand each other and support each other in breaking stereotypes, resulting in men starting to speak up about their feelings and showing another side of themselves, then I feel like the role of women will naturally become more balanced and lead to a more inclusive and empathetic society. 

Bryan: Since the cost of living in Singapore is high, dual-income families have almost become a necessity. However, there are still families that expect the wife to take on the entire responsibility of the home, which I disagree with.

As a man, we should acknowledge that stereotypes still exist and try to be empathetic towards our female counterparts. 

Aside from being understanding and empathetic, we as men can give them the benefit of the doubt and listening ear. Let them know that their experiences are relevant and real. Do not discount them or dismiss them by saying, ‘Oh, that’s in the past, times have changed,’ which can be very insensitive.

As men, we should stand up for women and support them against stereotypes and expectations. Listen to their stories and acknowledge the existence of individual injustices. Just because we don't see them doesn't mean they don't exist.

Shifting the conversation to you, Tiffany, what does it mean to be a woman in SG? 

Tiffany: Honestly, the first word that came to my mind is like, it's safe here. I don't feel worried if the sun has gone down. I feel relatively confident that I can walk the streets alone myself. I think  I'm in a very lucky position to be able to do that as a woman.

What are some of the challenges and difficulties you personally face?

Tiffany: My workplace is progressive so I personally don’t experience a lot of discrimination. I’m lucky that my parents treated me and my brother equally as well.

But I do feel the pressure of staying home with four cats, especially from the older generation (e.g my grandmother scolds me when I show her pics of my cats and asks me where’s the baby).

There is still a general societal pressure to be a stay at home mom and give birth. Especially during CNY, I always get questions on when we will have kids, which usually we close an eye to, because it could just be an icebreaker / small talk question.

But it’s a bit overboard when they say things like “Just give birth and then quit, then ask Bryan to work and support you la”. This makes me feel reduced as a person to just a baby making machine or something.

How did you get to where you are today?

Tiffany: I’m lucky to have been treated equally growing up and also at the workplace. I’m just imagining that the equal opportunities that I’ve experienced thus far might not have happened for other women. They could all have become potential blockers that would prevent me from being where I am today. 

Since Bryan travels twice a month, how do you then juggle all these expectations of your day-to-day roles at work and at home, and still fulfil your responsibilities? How do you wear so many hats and still create content for your IG account @jingwensathome?

Tiffany: It’s not easy, but I don’t think this question is about whether I’m a woman or not. I just see it as, ‘okay, if something comes up, I need to take on more responsibilities.’ Even if I’m a guy or a girl, if my partner goes overseas, I will help take on more household responsibilities.

Finally, do you have tips for wives who are in similar positions having to juggle work and chores also.

Tiffany: I just get it done. I’m very lucky to have Bryan who does things when he’s around and we are equal in what we do in terms of tasks. 

My advice to anyone is, if you feel that there's an imbalance, you should bring it up. Speak up instead of letting resentment build. Don't stay silent and go along with things, because if you're silent, then you are basically a proponent of inequality, even if you don't believe in it.

If you both come back home from work and you feel like you're doing more, then you have to speak up.

You need to have all these difficult conversations. If not, the situation won't change.

The tasks won’t always be split equally. There have also been times when Bryan has also raised the fact that I'm not doing enough, or that he feels underappreciated because he's doing so much. So beyond trying to split the responsibilities, sometimes it can be as simple as showing affirmation and appreciation for your partner.

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