Changing Lenses: Diversify Your Perspectives

Ep20: All the Single Ladies (are invisible minorities), with Jaime Ho

August 25, 2021 Rosie Yeung Season 2 Episode 20
Changing Lenses: Diversify Your Perspectives
Ep20: All the Single Ladies (are invisible minorities), with Jaime Ho
Show Notes Transcript

We’re single, but we’re not alone. The population of singles are growing in North America – but we’re still a minority group. And like any minority group, we face discrimination and marginalization purely because we don’t have the power of the majority – even more so for single women.

If you’re wondering how that could be, you’re probably married. 😊 And your single friends and family need you to hear this episode.

Because singlehood isn’t a waiting room for marriage. It’s become an increasingly long-term lifestyle for people in their 30’s, 40’s and older. But our workplaces, businesses, even taxes, still centre the nuclear family as the “norm”.

So in this episode, we’re changing our lens to see through the eyes of two long-term single women – me, and my best friend Jaime. We go outside our comfort zones to (hopefully) de-stigmatize an issue that can still cause women to question their self-worth.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • How capitalist economies disadvantage single people
  • How parents and couples get prioritized at work
  • Why getting married isn’t the solution
  • A new worldview on the modern family

Full transcript available here.

Contact Rosie and find JEDI resources at:  https://www.changinglenses.ca/


Guest Bio


Jaime Ho is a CPA, CA who’s not your stereotypical accountant. She’s a creative artist, rock climber and baker, whose amazing cakes have been featured on the Food Network. Most importantly, she’s Rosie’s best friend, and zookeeper of two dogs and a cat.

References and Resources in this Episode:


Unfair Tax System for Canadian Single Seniors

https://singleseniorstax.wixsite.com/home/updates 

https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.6017270

Financial costs of being single:

https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/the-high-price-of-being-single-in-america/267043/

https://www.wealthenhancement.com/blog/cost-of-being-single


Canadian Demographic Statistics:

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2019001/article/00003-eng.htm

https://www.statista.com/statistics/446168/canada-single-population-by-age-group/

https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=PR&Code1=01&Geo2=PR&Code2=01&Data=Count&SearchText=Canada&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=Visible%20minority&TABID=1


If you enjoy the podcast and want deeper ways to Change your Lens in work and business, check out the free resources on my website, changinglenses.ca. I also offer workshops and keynote speeches on JEDI topics like Decolonizing Corporate Workplaces, recruiting more inclusively, anti-Asian racism, and many more. How can I  support your JEDI journey? Contact me at changinglenses.ca.

Please note: the transcripts attempt to stay true to the essence of each conversation, while maintaining clarity and readability. As a result, certain "filler" words, and nuances of tone, emotion and emphasis will be missing.

If you're able, you're strongly encouraged to listen to the audio podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human editors, and may contain errors.


Ep20: All the Single Ladies (are invisible minorities), with Jaime Ho


Rosie: Friends, I want to talk to you about something that’s highly stigmatized in our society. I’ve wanted to share this for a while, but I’ve been too scared. I haven’t done anything wrong, yet I feel so much shame. I feel like it’s my fault, that it’s in my control to change things if I really wanted to. At least, that’s what my friends and family keep telling me. 

They don’t get it. They don’t know what it’s like. So many things are easy for them, but are hard for me, because the world is built for people like them. I’m part of a very small minority, just 0.9% of Canada, so I have to adapt to the world, it doesn’t adapt to me. 

I’ve been mocked and discriminated against, with nasty words hurled at me and my people group. I’m stereotyped based on assumptions that are false and antiquated.

Am I stupid for feeling this way? Am I the only one? Should I just “get over it”? I wish I could talk about this, but it’s not really OK to do.

Sometimes it’s actually worse when people in the majority do talk about it, because they so clearly don’t get it that even their best intentions end up hurting me. They think I have no right to complain, and don’t see why people like me need accommodation.

Don’t get me wrong, I do recognize that I have a lot of privilege. My education, career and financial situation give me a lot of advantages.

Which is why it’s so important for me to tell you my story. Because systemic discrimination and inequity isn’t just about income, race or gender. By its very nature, a majority group has more power than a minority group. And systemic discrimination happens when the system is designed by and for a majority group.

Friends – do you know what I’m talking about?

You probably do, because it’s right in the title of this podcast episode. Yep, it’s about my marital status – or more specifically, my lack thereof. But hopefully, you also see that everything I’ve said so far could apply to many different forms of exclusion and marginalization.

This is why Jaime and I felt so compelled to record this episode and share something so personal with you. Jaime Ho is a smart, accomplished woman, a finance professional, and a successful baker who’s been featured on the Food Network. She’s also my best friend and happens to be single. That’s important context, but neither of us see singlehood as our identity. The problem is, we don’t have a choice. That identity is forced upon us everyday, in what we buy, how we eat, and where we live. 

Friends, let me be clear about something. Jaime and I are not upset that we’re single. I’ve been called the s-word – you know, “spinster” – but I’m not a spinster, or old maid, or have sour grapes, or any of those offensive slurs that only seem to apply to single women and not single men. Sorry. I got sidetracked.

My point is - finding a husband is not going to solve our problems. Because the problem with singlehood isn’t that we’re not married.

The problem is how our economy, our government, our workplaces, our whole society, treats unmarried people.

So in this episode, we’re changing our lens to see through the eyes of two single women – me and Jaime. We have a pretty frank discussion about our lives, hoping to raise awareness about how singlehood and the concept of family has evolved, but our systems haven’t. Whether you’re single, married or somewhere in between – I hope you hear something that resonates for you. 

But first – a quick intro and land acknowledgment.

[intro music plays]

Rosie:Welcome to Changing Lenses. You’re invited to step into the lives of people on the front lines of discrimination, racism, and exclusion; to see the world through their eyes; and to hear their personal story of their fight for social justice.

I’m your host, Rosie Yeung, a Chinese-Canadian, immigrant, cis-straight female with invisible disabilities, and I’m passionate about justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Do you also want to see social change happen? Then please join me in Changing Lenses.

Each episode is hosted on colonized land that was taken from many Indigenous nations, including the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. I seek Truth and Reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people of Turtle Island, and I call upon us all to decolonize our thinking, not just our systems. Learn more on my website, changinglenses.ca.

Now please, enjoy the episode.

[intro music ends]

Rosie: Hi, Jaime. Welcome. Thank you so much for coming on the Changing Lenses Podcast.

Jaime: Thanks Rosie. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Rosie: Is it? Because we're going to be talking about something very special to you and me and I am truly enjoying the fact they are going to be here because this is a different aspect of equity and diversity and inclusion that I don't think gets talked about too much because there aren't too many of you and me around and it's single women and for us specifically, it's single women in our forties. And you know, for you who's listening, it may not cross your mind as a particularly significant aspect of diversity and inclusion to talk about singles or maybe single women, because it is different. The gender experience of being single is different, and that includes all gender diversities. But we are going to be discussing something today that is near and dear to my heart as well as my very good friend, Jaime, and because it is kind of a sensitive topic and there's so much stigma around being single, no matter what your age, that I want to make a commitment to you and to all of our listeners, that this is a safe and comfortable space.

And I want you to feel like you can be honest and real and vulnerable in our conversations. So I commit to you and our listeners, that this is safe and I invite you to keep me accountable, to being respectful and non-judgemental, and to definitely let me know if I say anything inappropriate.

Jaime: Thank you, Rosie. I appreciate your commitment.

Rosie: That's so formal of you. Thank you so much. We are really good friends, so this is probably going to be a bit of an off the cuff type of episode. I hope you enjoy it. And I really want to get some things off my chest, but I also really do want to make this about helping women everywhere and particularly single women. Doesn't matter why you're single, how you're single, we'll get to that as well, but I want you to be seen and to be heard because so often I don't feel seen or heard or counted in the demographics of our world in our country. 

And just to kind of acknowledge as well my privilege, because I also don't want this to be about what are you talking about? You have all this privilege in education and income. And that is absolutely true. So I'm not trying to cry pity or say that, oh, my situation is so terrible because I'm not married.

That's not the point at all, actually. And then we'll emphasize that as well. But I do want to highlight and bring to people's awareness. Some of the experiences of being single and specifically a single woman. For single men, I know that they would have their own aspects of exclusion. And I'm not discounting that, but since we're both women, we're going to be talking specifically about issues for single women. And some of that is the stigma. So even the fact that we're having this episode, I am excited, but I am frankly nervous. And I have all these thoughts that come to my head. Like as soon as people hear that I'm single and in my forties, they'll be like, well, either what's wrong with her that she's still single. Or, you know, best case scenario would be, "Oh, I can't believe she's not married yet." And then the worst case is, "Yeah, that doesn't surprise me at all. No wonder she's still single." So I'm thankful for you, Jaime, that you are being brave frankly, in being willing to have this conversation. And so publicly. And I wonder what comes up for you when your single status is discussed, or even as you're thinking about doing this episode. What were your feelings?

Jaime: I think it's a very interesting topic. And I think first and foremost, what I want to emphasize is that being a single in this day and age is a much different experience from, I would say, you know, being single in your twenties and whatnot. What I don't want to say is that we are victims of anything, by any means, and that in many different ways, it is a choice that I have made. Different priorities in my life which makes me single now. But it's interesting how society doesn't see that. And the language that we use to speak of singles is often in the negative. Whereas, it's actually quite empowering to be single and to be independent and to really be able to live your full life yourself. Which is amazing. And I think it's also interesting when people say, oh, you're single, you must be lonely or depressed. And I would say that none of that is true because of my singlehood. Maybe because of other things in my life but, definitely not because I don't have a spouse.

Rosie: I think that's a really good point to bring up because single people as a population also are very diverse, right? When I think about characteristics, I guess, of discrimination and exclusion, this is what made me even think of doing this topic for one of our episodes, because I see the parallels.

And again, I don't want to say, oh, being single, it's the same as being discriminated against. That is not what I'm trying to say. And I do worry that people will take it that way. So I just want to put that out there, right off the bat. This is not about trying to compare different types of discrimination or different levels of discrimination and making a judgment one way or the other.

I do think that there are aspects of singlehood where we are excluded, that's not that obvious. So Jaime, when you say that you don't want to be seen as a victim, I totally resonate with that. And I also feel conflicted because I don't feel like a victim. I don't want people to think I'm a victim, but I also want them to recognize that things are harder for me as a single person than it is in a couple or in a family.

And yes, there's things that are harder for families too, right? But it's that; don't think that just because we're single we're free, we can do whatever we want. There's things that are harder in life as a single person. Especially as a single person living alone, which a lot of single people are. So for you, Jaime, what are some things that you think are harder for you than your friends and family that you see are in groups?

Jaime: That's a very good question, Rosie. I would say that, you know, one of the things that I struggle with is it's expected for singles to have empathy for the married couples or the people with children, but the reciprocation of the empathy to understand their living situations and whatnot isn't always there. You know, we talk about, for example, how difficult it is during COVID during the pandemic for people with children to do homeschooling and whatnot. Yes, I fully can emphasize and think that it's, you know, a struggle and it's so difficult, but what about the impact of COVID on single people who are living at home by themselves isolated for like a year and a half plus, you know, it's just because people have been single at some point in their life. They think they, they understand, but that's not always the case.

Rosie: Something that I've been thinking about that you said is, you used the word choice when we talked about our marital status and that's also what I see a link to microaggressions or biased thinking against certain demographics or certain people groups when there isn't the understanding.

Like, I don't think anybody intends anything bad, but I don't think there's the understanding. Something that I have explained to friends several times is, it's not actually a choice. It is and it isn't right. It's not that simple. Again, recognizing I am a privileged person, but I do compare a little bit to people who don't understand and they make comments around, well, why don't, you know, why doesn't a homeless person just get a job? Or why doesn't an addict just stop drinking or just stop doing drugs? Like why don't they just; as if there is some kind of choice implied in there. And they can just stop doing it whenever they want to. Well, I guess technically I could stop being single if I just went and decided to marry someone and just found someone to marry who would be willing to marry me, but I want this to work out and be compatible. And so my choice has been to I guess wait, or to choose to marry someone that I really want to marry and not perhaps just any opportunities. Not that there's a huge lineup, but not just any opportunity that came my way.

And so I'd say that there's more choice to be married because once you find that someone, it is a choice. You have a choice to decide to get married or not. But being single itself, I don't think is so black and white. Sure, some people might choose to be single, but there's others like me who like, I don't choose to be single, but I haven't had the opportunity to be married.

So what did you mean when you were saying that there's a choice involved.

Jaime: I would say that for my particular situation, the choice is not necessarily black or white. It's not, I want to be married or I don't want to be married. The choice that I'm referring to is that I prioritized other things in my life ahead of finding a partner and getting married and having children because in my experiences there were certain things that I wanted to do. Certain people I wanted to meet and certain things that I wanted to accomplish on my own and finding somebody with a complimentary mindset and value system. It's not always that easy, right?

Rosie: Well, okay. I kind of want to take that and do a little bit of myth-busting or stereotype busting because. Yes. Like you said, it's not yes or no black and white, but I also think that somewhere in what you said are stereotypes that are put upon us as singles by others. I'll just throw a bunch out there. Stuff I've heard.

Oh, well, if you never put yourself out there, if you're just working all the time or doing whatever that is perceived as, but you're not prioritizing finding a partner, then no wonder you're not married, right? 

And I would kind of be like, well, no, because there's plenty of people that worked really hard and you would say they prioritize their work as well, but they ended up getting married because somehow they still met the person that they decided they want to marry. So I don't think personally that it's just a prioritizing your career. I think that tends to be put on women, you know, women and their careers and they made it so important and now they're not married. Like that's what I think is a narrative that gets thrown out there.

And also then from my family members and other people have said, well, you're just too picky, right? Like if you weren't so picky, you could have found a husband by now or a partner. And I kind of think like, what are you trying to say? I should just settle for whoever, or are you saying that I'm so picky, like, no, man is good enough for me like that doesn't sit well with me and I don't want people to look at me and feel sorry for me. I do have problems as a single person, but the problem isn't, I'm not married. And therefore the solution is to be married. The problem is a whole bunch of other stuff around living alone in Canada. I actually see that there is systemic bias, exclusion, discrimination, against people like you and me. I see us being systemically excluded and that things are harder for us financially.

I am not trying to say oh life, for married people, or for families is so much easier and you don't have the same expenses that I have because the very first thing, most people in a couple or family think about is the cost of raising kids. It is high. Cost of living right now, period is high. So I'm not trying to say, oh, it's, you know, so much more affordable for people to have families. Yeah, that's not my point. I do want to highlight how I feel economically disadvantaged because I seem to bear a higher per unit or per person cost in a variety of ways.

And let me explain by a couple of examples. Here's one of my biggest pet peeves right now. And I noticed this particularly during COVID, cause I was doing a lot more grocery shopping because I wasn't going out to eat. And so many things at the local grocery store I noticed was, oh, if you buy multiple of whatever it is, you'll get a discount on it. So like multiple bags of pasta or cans of corn or whatever. Most of the time either it's a special sale promotion, but you have to buy two or more and as a single person, I don't need that much. I live in a space made for single people. So I don't have enough space to store that stuff. And food wise, especially when you're talking about perishable goods, like that's just wastage. So for sustainability, for the environment, for me just not wanting to waste food that I can't even eat, even though I bought it. It's a bunch of carrots that are going to go to waste because I can only buy them in a bunch and that's the same price. Or to get the cheaper cost people who have more buying power or have the need and can accommodate cause they have storage or whatever to buy more than one can of anything they get the lower unit cost. And that's just one example of many, but yeah, I'm open to being wrong on this. I'm not an economist, but I am a professional accountant.

And I think this is true. I think that this whole like economies of scale, why companies can even offer lower prices on multiple buys. It's not being passed on to everybody equally. The people who have the money and the need to buy multiples, they get that lower cost benefit. But me as a single buyer, without the buying power, I don't get that benefit.

What do you think about that Jaime? Like tell me if I'm wrong, I'm really open to that.

Jaime: When you talk about the economies of being single, it's almost systemic across the capitalist world. All companies will offer some kind of a scale discount and we don't benefit from it as singles because we are not in their target markets. But companies don't necessarily care about that because we are a very small percentage of the total population. You know, If you think about it, companies are responding to a system that was designed by governments, by religions to benefit married people.

And so that's how they're responding with their deals as well is because they are marketing to the majority. Nobody is going to market to the minority. I would say that in North America being single is probably in the minority. Singles are virtually ignored in everything that we do. 

Rosie: A hundred percent. We're the invisible minority. Nevermind visible minorities. I did look up the stats for Canada. Cause I was wondering about this. I'm like, I wonder if I'm actually in a smaller minority group as a single woman in my forties than I am as a Chinese woman. And yes. The answer is yes, I am. So as an East Asian woman, this is based on the 2016 census stats I think for Canada. I am one of 1.5 million East Asian women in Canada. And that's 4.6% of the population. As a single woman who's never been married, so not including people who are widowed or divorced. I am one of only 941,000 people in Canada. That's 2.5%. And as a single woman, never married in my forties. I am in the 0.9% population of Canada. So 0.9% versus 4.6% as an East Asian woman. Yeah. That's a significant statistical difference. And that to me is for sure an indicator of why in a capitalistic society, there's no reason to market food, vacations, all sorts of stuff, right? Everything is geared towards nuclear families or couples. Like you shared some experiences with me before about like what your thoughts were, right, on things that are marketed to not being alone and even then stigmatized if you are alone, like going to see a movie is another example I can think of. What situations have you noticed that are either it's stigmatized for you to be doing something as one person versus as part of a couple or a family?

Jaime: So I think that society in general there's a lot of things that isn't designed for single people. Things like, you know, going to a restaurant, eating alone. A lot of times when I do go to a restaurant I'll be sitting at the bar or in a corner, you know, very seldomly would I be sitting kind of smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. It's always kind of on the outskirts sort of thing. You know, when you travel, for example, that single supplement that they try to charge you when you're trying to sign up for tour or when you have to pay for a room for a cruise or something like that. It can get quite prohibitive from a financial perspective. It really makes you second guess whether or not you actually really want to go on that family cruise, where everybody is in couples and can split the cost of their travel versus you're paying for it all by yourself. 

If you are paying a single supplement, you're essentially helping them make up the difference of what they could charge a couple. And it's not like they take a couple and they say, okay, your package is going to be $1,000. Okay. Single person, your person is $500 because you're half of a couple, uh, you know, they will probably say, okay, single person, it's $700.

If you want to share a room with another random single person. So their actually, you know, potentially making more off of singles than they would be off of couples, which is quite interesting when you look at it from a financial perspective, right? So not only are we not considered in kind of the day to day. We are potentially overlooked by things like tax regulations and tax rules, you know, tax benefits and that kind of thing. But even, even in our day-to-day lives, it can be more expensive to be single. When you think about your everyday living the cost of rent for a similar place, so say Toronto dollars, a 600 square foot condo, roughly I don't know what the going rate is right now, but I think it's around $2,200, $2,300 a month.

You know, you could live quite comfortably in that as a couple and split it. Dual income, no kids. A very, very efficient, effective lifestyle. As a single person, it's not like I can get a 300 square foot place for $1,100 per se. If I wanted to size down to three, four hundred square foot, I'm probably still paying $2,000 a month in rent, right? So the system is not designed for single living, even if you're willing to make compromises in terms of size or whatnot, like I guess, per person costs can be quite a bit higher.

Rosie: And I think that that's also where people who might not know that argument or might not realize the cost for single people. It's because they only see the absolute dollar amounts that their paying out. Because if they were to go on a trip, say a family of four, and the kids are older than two years old, they ought to pay for four people, which of course is higher right than the cost I pay for my single airline ticket.

But everything when you look at on a per person basis, it's more economically efficient for them, right? Because that is how hotels are designed. That is how group package vacations are designed. It's always for people to go together. And this is also where I think unawareness or sometimes ignorance comes into play when people bring up choice.

Because you could argue, like devil's advocate ,well Jaime, if you don't want to live in a 300 hundred square foot place and you only want to pay $1,100, then go find a roommate, right? Like that's all being married is, you're just living with somebody else and splitting the cost.

So you could do that too. You don't have to pay $2,200 yourself. But to me, that's another form of systemic exclusion and frankly discrimination because it's hard enough to live together peacefully as a married couple, right? What does a single person supposed to do? Go and find some other person who is also single and also wants to split a place. And then you're going to have to agree on how to live together, let alone decor right? Anybody who is married, listening to this, you know how hard it is. Like I can't even pick my own decor, let alone agree about it with somebody else. So why should we just because, just because we're single, that's the thing, right? It's not even an identity. I don't want my identity, I don't see my identity as being single, but that is put on me every day by society. And by the government. Like you talk about taxes Jaime. 

Where else are we reminded annually that we're not married, right? Or whatever your status is, whether you're married or you're divorced, you're reminded annually. You're divorced, your spouse died, right? Like why should taxes? It's a financial thing.

It is also government policy. It then matters to the government. It matters to fiscal policy what my marital status is. So what does that say, right? Like clearly there are financial differences that they are attributing to people based solely on their marital status and then whether or not they have kids.

And when, as I argue, it's not my choice. Like I could be married, but I'm not. Then why should there be a difference between me and an individual person who is married solely because of their marital status and my non-marital status. I see a huge inequity there.

Jaime: Yeah. I mean, really our tax rules, our systems and even societal beliefs are based on antiquated practices from the middle ages where property was tied to marriage. And so, you know, even our tax system, when it was designed, is tied to marriage and trying to encourage people to be married and encourage the support of lesser earning spouses through income splitting and whatnot.

But it's interesting because as society changes, as things are transforming in kind of our definitions of how we live together and how we work together. Those rules have not kept up with those kinds of changes. Like tax rules have not evolved. So that say Rosie, as my best friend, if you are going to be living with me and we've decided that, Hey, we're going to share a house for the rest of our lives, married or not married. We don't still benefit from the same tax rules as a married couple. Even though we share a space and we have built a life together. 

There is nothing in the Canadian Income Tax Act where you can transfer funds from one person to the other. Even though for all intents and purposes, that definition of family is the same as a married couple essentially with no fiscal benefits. You know, you're still living together. You're still splitting costs. You're still sharing the responsibilities. So for all intents and purposes, it's almost exactly the same, except that our tax rules does not allow the transfer of credits and benefits so that you can both build something together. 

And there's studies where it can be quite significant in terms of the amount of taxes that you pay, the social security benefits, the inability to split income and even survivor benefits and other kinds of benefits down the road. And there's some studies by the Atlantic that say it could be up to a million dollars, which is huge in the context of questioning whether women are being paid equal to men and then add on a million dollars on top of that over a lifetime, just because you're single.

And it's very interesting from that perspective because, you know, the definition of families is changing and how we see our support systems and our social system's changing.

It's not just, you know, parents and two children anymore. That whole nuclear family. It's broader than that. There's you know, communities, there's communities of single people. There's people who are committed to each other, but don't even want to live together. And as our society changes, you would hope that the rules and the impressions and the beliefs that society has also changes to reflect those.

But it's not, you know, there's still a lot of microaggressions. There's still a lot of unconscious bias when it comes to people being single. And there's still a lot of financial inequalities that come with being single.

Rosie: Okay. You're making me think of something else that's kind of blowing my mind, which is what I would call financial security. I, as a single person have less financial security than if you're a committed couple and earning double income. 

When I lost my job earlier last year, I lost things that I'd had taken for granted for 20 years, including health insurance, including like pension or retirement savings type benefits. But what if, like you said, hypothetically, Jaime, like what if, because we're best friends, we are in a committed relationship. And if you were to lose your job, I could support you financially and I'd want to do that. And why couldn't I have you be my plus one or whatever for my health benefits, at my office, right? Like the employer offers it anyway. They're willing to pay for a second person or for a family, for the employees who are married.

But just because I'm not married, even though arguably I could have a more committed and loving relationship with you as my best friend than some married people have. Right. So I don't want to go down that road, but point being, as a single person who wants to care for really important person in my life, especially if that other person is also a single woman facing financial insecurity having to depend on herself. And yet our accepted norms don't allow us to share financial stability that way. 

And and okay here's a little bit of a sidetrack, but you have two dogs don't happen to have any children. Why is it that you can't get supports right? It's frigging expensive to raise some animals. They get sick too, right? They are not human, but they get sick, you have to care for them. There's pet insurance, just like there's all sorts of other types of insurance. All these things cost money and you like many, many other pet lovers. Your pets are part of your family, but they're not part of the traditional definition of a nuclear family as you very helpfully described. So that's one area I think we could see at least more acknowledgement. Maybe it doesn't have to be financial, but even the recognition, right? That your definition of family isn't just having kids or being married, you have some living beings in your life that you really, really care about and they're important to you. 

Jaime: It's interesting that you bring that up because I don't really consider my pets, children. They are part of my family, but it's kind of interesting. So let's take a comparison for example of somebody who needs to leave work early because they need to pick up their children from daycare. A hundred percent acceptable. Everybody understands. Everybody's like, okay, you need to clock out at four every day, we won't hold you back. We won't schedule meetings that you need to be in because we understand. But say, for example, I need to leave at four every day to feed my cat, my dog, whatever. Or if one of them is sick and needs to be on medication, I need to be home by a certain time. The understanding and the acceptability of that within our society is not there.

Society in general has prioritized the traditional definitions of family over kind of how we see families evolving in this day and age. And it really begs the question of how do we open our eyes to new definitions of family or new definitions for economic purposes, political purposes, tax purposes. Like it makes you just think and wonder as times change, are our definitions and rules changing with those times?

Rosie: That is really good example, too. We could probably go on for hours and hours to talk about all the different experiences we've had in different scenarios, but work is an important one because work is such a huge time part of our lives and almost everybody's lives. And I didn't think about the pets aspect, but you're totally right.

Like well, for many reasons I don't have pets, but one of them is I've considered, how would I take care of them? Especially when I was working in offices where I'm there, like, you know, 11 hours a day. There's no way I can get home and walk the dog or take care of the dog as much as the dog needs. It's not even fair to a dog or a pet that I'm not at home. But it doesn't mean I don't want one and I would like to care for them, but I prioritized work. But like a spouse's anniversary or, you know, your kids soccer practice or something. Those are generally well accepted because the majority knows about it. And I'm not saying parents, I'm not saying that you shouldn't get to have that benefit. Of course you should. I just wish that as a person who doesn't have kids and isn't married. The things that are important to me in my life because those are the things I do as a single person. Are just as important to people to provide for and allow me to do.

Jaime: I think really what is going to be the biggest change is if people become more aware that being a single woman is not a negative. It can be a positive. But being aware that the unique struggles that each person has and the experiences that they're going through are not always apparent.

So, you know, applying grace, being empathetic, not minimizing people's experiences and I think just building that awareness and that empathy and helping people see that there's just so many things that everybody's going through on a day to day. Recognizing those things is kind of that first step to becoming a more inclusive society. Right. And we have to raise those considerations before things like our tax rules, our financial rules, all those kinds of things can change. It's really about how you look at somebody and how you define somebody.

I don't define myself necessarily as, Hi, I'm Jaime, I'm a mid forties single woman who is also Asian. I'm Jaime. There are things that I like to do. There's things that I don't like to do. And all my experiences have defined who I am not because of one thing or the other, but when people don't respect my experiences or don't respect my circumstances, that's when it becomes very difficult for me to play into what society expects of me.

Rosie: Yes. To everything you just said, Jaime. I love it. I really wish our societal view of community would grow in scope. I really love the Indigenous worldview on this from some of my Indigenous guests where they talk about concepts of tribes and nations, right.

That their family isn't just mom and dad or parents and kids. It's aunties and uncles, huge part right of families. And so when they think about both emotional wellbeing or supporting each other, loving each other and financially, it's way more than just the small group of parents and kids. And more than what we might call extended family of, you know, grandparents and aunts and uncles and nieces stuff. Like those are all important too. I wish that it would be more recognized and make more room for different types of families, right? Like you have a nephew, I have nieces and nephews.

Why shouldn't I get to do things for them financially that parents might be able to do for kids? Because I don't have my own kids, right? Yeah I think lots of ways that we could start changing our viewpoint, changing our lenses on things. I think we could start doing that around couples and families. 

Hmm So Jaime let's end on a positive and encouraging note for all the other single ladies out there. We've been in our twenties, not married. We've been in our thirties, not married. If there's a woman out there who's single today, any words of encouragement or advice that you want to share with them?

Jaime: Well, first off, I have never felt as old as I do after this conversation. Why do you keep telling people I'm in my forties. Thank goodness for Asian I don't think that I look forties. I would say that my word of advice that I have is that you are the owner of what happens to you and in your life experiences and just because somebody's defined not being single as the normal, it doesn't mean that being single can't be the normal for you. I think also what it means is there is no timelines, right? I'm going to keep defining myself in a way that fulfills me and gives me purpose in my life.

And I would encourage everybody to do the same, is to think about what's important to you. You know, how do you want to live your best life? To live that extraordinary life. And as Rosie likes to remind me that maybe there's nothing extraordinary about me after all, but how do you live your best life regardless of your marital status?

Because marital status is just an artificial construct from antiquated laws. It's how do we question them? How do we challenge that? And how do we form relationships with people that mean just as much. And appreciate those relationships and not say, oh, we're not married. It's okay. You're just my best friend. But really no Rosie, you are my best friend. I may not label it on a regular basis, but it's just as important to me as if I had a spouse. 

Rosie: By the way she's only saying this because she's on the podcast. She's never said anything like that to me before. No, I'm just kidding.

Jaime: Oh, a hundred percent.

Rosie: You're an inspiration and I put you on the spot like that because I know you can be an inspiration to so many other women, and I'm glad that you shared those words with us. I guess my words of encouragement, or I just to add some words of encouragement is to, for all you single ladies, if you want to be married, it's okay. Right. It's okay to want to be married. It's okay to feel lonely. I think sometimes there's a idea that, well, we have to be strong women. We have to be resilient, right?

We don't want to be victims and not being seen as a victim means we don't care that we're not married. It's okay to care that you're not married. And it's also okay that it doesn't define you and it's not your identity, right. So you can be strong and you can be independent and also want to be married.

And I totally believe that you can also be very happy and not be married, right? And so I think for me, the main thing is don't let anybody else tell you what you should or shouldn't feel or how you should think about it.

Jaime: it's interesting because even through this conversation, I've learned that we both have very different experiences and very different approaches to being single too, which is incredible. Like everybody's experience is unique. How do we highlight that for people and how do we ask others to see that? And to recognize same way that we see them.

Rosie: Jaime, thank you once again for coming on today and just being so open. It's something that we are both very passionate about as I hope it's obvious, but it is still kind of scary to put ourselves out there, so thank you for coming on here and putting yourself out there and being my best friend. I so appreciate you.

Jaime: Oh, I love you too. When are we going for a drink?

Rosie: How about right now? I think I need a drink right now.

Jaime: Alright. Come pick me up.

Rosie: And listeners, I hope that you got a lot out of this episode and if you have any comments we want to hear from you. If you enjoyed this and want to keep supporting the podcast, please go to wherever you listen and hit, subscribe and leave a review. And until next time, I'm Rosie Yeung, your guide to Changing Lenses.

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Rosie:Thanks for joining us! I hope we helped to change your lens, and expand your worldview. And if you want to talk about today’s episode with a safe community, or ask me questions directly, please join our Changing Lenses Facebook Group – the link is in the shownotes. This episode was produced and hosted by me, with associate production by William Loo, and post-production by Cue9. Until next time, I’m Rosie Yeung, your guide to Changing Lenses.

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