High school senior Caitlyn Cannon’s badass yearbook quote has dominated the Internet for the past 2 weeks. It’s been shared by the general public as well as dozens of celebrities. It reads:
“I need feminism because I intend on marrying rich and I can’t do that if my wife and I are making .75 cent for every dollar a man makes.”
The quote itself is spectacular, but so is the young woman behind it. I sat down with Caitlyn to discuss what feminism means to her and how she feels about being a viral sensation.
1. Hi! So I want to begin with demographics, just so our readers can get to know you better. Where are you from?
Caitlyn: I’m from Hesperia, California, which is located in the High Desert – a very dry part of Southern California. I like to call it the middle of nowhere since we’re separated from everything by mountains and long stretches of deserts. My family is your average family, I suppose: Mom, dad, myself, a few brothers and a sister. I would identify as white, and I’ll spare you the long-winded list of nationalities that I have somehow inherited.
2. I’m so happy that you took such a risk with your quote and shed light on something that needs to be addressed. What prompted you to make it your senior quote?
C: I just knew that I wanted to look back on my senior quote as something that I was proud of, and that meant it couldn’t be your average quote. I wanted to maybe open up the eyes of my fellow seniors and Bulldogs (my high school mascot), and bring a little bit of reality to the yearbook.
3. That’s a really great perspective to take on choosing your senior quote. Did you have any trouble getting it into the yearbook?
C: I had no trouble whatsoever submitting the quote. My high school, Oak Hills, has always been a very progressive environment, and though I can only speak for myself on this, I’ve never experienced any problems like bullying or discrimination on account of my opinions or my sexuality.
4. How do you feel about your quote going viral?
C: I feel a little overwhelmed if I’m being honest, but I know that if nothing else it’ll allow or even force people to start talking about issues such as the ones in the quote. It is a little off-putting to see my face show up on many of my own social networking feeds, since I’ve always been a pretty shy person, but I think it’ll all turn out OK.
5. You’ve gotten a mixed bag in terms of responses to your quote. Other than the hate messages, have you received any coherent feedback from those persons who don’t dentify with feminism?
C: I’ve gotten 1 or 2 messages from people that don’t identify with feminism, trying to explain – very politely, which is great – why I was wrong and providing me with sources. I think these people are at least more helpful in trying to develop diplomatic solutions, or at least start a conversation that involves compromise.
6. Your friends and family must be so proud of you for standing up for your beliefs. Are you a celebrity in your hometown?
C: I wouldn’t say a celebrity, but many of my friends and acquaintances have told me what a good thing I did. Here’s a funny story, though: My mom went to get a pedicure and the ladies that were in there knew she had a daughter named Caitlyn, so they asked her, “is your daughter THE Caitlyn?” I found this rather funny. I guess some people around my hometown are aware. My principal even called me to the school to commend me on the quote. Semi-celebrity?
7. You’re very open about your sexuality, which is awesome. Has the LGBTQ+ Community reached out to you in any way?
C: I’ve received a few messages and comments from a few members of the LGBTQ+ community, saying that I might have made it easier for them and others to feel accepted and comfortable enough to come out, which is extremely humbling and amazing. If I helped just one person feel right in their own skin, that’s enough for me, so I hope that’s what the community is experiencing right now.
8. How did you come to identify as a feminist?
C: I knew that I was gay at a young age, and therefore witnessed and experienced discrimination according to sexuality. This made equality a very important concept for me, though I never even knew of gender discrimination until I was a bit older. High school is what gave me that little splash of reality, and Tumblr, though I know it’s not the most reliable place for information. Those 2 places really opened my eyes to what women go through here in the United States and around the world. Equality is one of the most important concepts to me, so how could I not identify as a feminist? I have had the privilege of growing up in a place – and in a skin color – where I can usually do whatever a man can, but I know that there are women out there who still can’t, so until that is no longer so, I’ll continue to be a feminist.
9. What are your plans, as far as college and future vocation or avocation?
C: I plan on attending Pace University in New York City and majoring in Sociology and Anthropology. My career goal – though right now it’s more of a dream – is to be in the FBI. I hope that this 15 minutes of fame hasn’t yet put that dream in jeopardy, but I suppose I’ll work that out when I get there.
10. Now for the golden question: Have you heard from Queen Ellen?
C: Unfortunately, no, but I was semi-joking about it so I’m semi-relieved that they haven’t gotten in contact with me yet. However, it would be a huge honor, and I think I would just about faint from happiness if that did happen, so fingers semi-crossed!