**My short bio: I am an author, filmmaker, photographer, and lecturer. I have spent the past twenty years traveling alone to remote cultures and conflict zones to bring home stories about people and places that few Westerners will ever see. Some of my journeys have taken me to:

· Roam the Rift Valley with East Africa’s Maasai warriors, · Smuggle endangered animals out of Vietnam, · Trek deep into the Himalayas with Tibetan nomadic yak herders · Pitch a tent in Tahrir square during Egypt’s revolution.

I’ve written three books (published in 6 languages) and produced numerous international television series for PBS and National Geographic. Eight years ago I founded a nonprofit (Take 2) that allows students throughout the country to use my footage to create their own documentaries in order to learn empathy and global citizenship.

My Proof: https://youtu.be/cImuDQwkids

Thank you all for your extraordinarily thoughtful questions! I'm heading to the airport shortly and so will be signing off now. If any of you happen to live in Madison, WI, I will be presenting my Egypt PBS series at the University on Monday and Tuesday nights. I'd love to meet you in person!

Comments: 114 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

weaselinMTL20 karma

Hello Karen,

What do you think is often overlooked when it comes to warzones? How different is it to work in a war zone compared to where a revolution (such as the Arab spring) takes place?

Thank you for doing this AMA!

KarinMuller51 karma

Thank YOU for an excellent question! When we see a war zone on TV, it's all drama and danger. The truth is tons of tedium and low level stress, punctuated by moments of extreme action. For me the greatest stress is having to evaluate every local as potentially hostile. Having to think the worst of people goes against my personal belief system and wears me down emotionally. Revolutions (like the Arab spring) - at least initially - are absolutely the opposite. Tahrir was a huge party - fireworks and face paint for the children. People singing and dancing to the tambourine. Old women in wheelchairs and mothers with their newborn babies. For the first five nights of the second revolution, even strangers were friends.

weaselinMTL11 karma

Thank you so much!

Having to keep such a level of potential threat towards everyone must require amazing psychological strength. You're actually doing exactly what I wanted to do when I was in high school, Im glad you answered :)

You talk about the fireworks etc in Cairo, what lead to the violence you've been one of the victims of? How common was it?

KarinMuller27 karma

Are you referring to the mob attack? You have to put it in context - The entire fabric of Egyptian society was under such stress that it was being torn to pieces. People were terrified - dictatorship was all they knew and democracy was looking a lot like civil war. The immediate spark for the mob in my case was someone shouting that I was a spy. Again, context: the Egyptian gov't controls the TV stations and broadcasts endless images of US/Western drone strikes, entire villages in rubble, dead children, etc. That mob was not afraid of me - they were afraid of what I represented. I showed up with a big camera and a lot of gear (the first westerner they had seen in their village in twenty years) and they assumed I was a CIA agent - and that drones/soldiers were probably not far behind me. In their minds they were defending their village, their families, and their children. Yes, mobs were very common (they still are). The three words you do not ever want to hear shouted at you in Egypt are Blasphemer, Shiite (it's a Sunni country), and spy.

weaselinMTL3 karma

That's very insightful, understanding from the inside. I'm googling your articles right now!

Do you keep in touch with some of the people you met back then?

KarinMuller12 karma

I keep in touch with almost all the locals I made friends with in the field. It used to be letters - now it's the internet. They are the best part of what I do. Many of those friendships have spanned decades and tens of thousands of miles and made me who I am.

romanmoses-12 karma

In other words, they were a bunch of bloody idiots who swallow everything their TV's tell them. I was in Egypt at that time, and I lost a lot of sympathy for the majority of Egyptians unfortunately. The level of ignorance there is astounding.

KarinMuller13 karma

I suspect that almost every society is guilty of swallowing the majority of what their TVs spit out at them. Before you judge the Egyptians too harshly, remember that most villagers are illiterate and that they only have access to two sources of information - television (run by the gov't) and the local Imam. Also keep in mind that they have no history of democracy or any of the many institutions we have been raised with. How long (and how many wars) did it take us to figure out the many freedoms we take for granted?

romanmoses0 karma

Hmm, I think I agree with you partly. I'm being harsh. And all societies are brainwashed pretty badly by the media. But back to Egypt; the majority go to school and the lot of them are followers of Islam which I can assure you encourages free thought, education and definitely not blind following. They should not under any circumstances have acted in that manner. But I was being harsh, especially if they were all villagers.

KarinMuller9 karma

thank you for being so open-minded! I should have stressed more how remote the village was and how strange and disconcerting my presence must have been to them. I agree with you that Islam encourages free thought, but the Egyptian education system doesn't necessarily do so. It does not stress (or sometimes even teach) critical thinking and analysis. I spoke to dozens of university graduates in Tahrir during the revolution. They all insisted that if the military took over, every Egyptian would get a job. I asked over and over where the money to pay them all was going to come from. Not one of them had ever considered the question. That is a failure of the education system.

Copywrites13 karma

How did you get involved with such work? What would you say to people who want to do what you do but aren't exactly sure how?

KarinMuller36 karma

The short answer is I bought a camera, hitchhiked around Vietnam for seven months, came home and cobbled together a demo, and spent the next two years convincing PBS to turn it into a one-hour special.
How do YOU get into it? There a thousand paths and I don't know enough about your background to be very helpful. Let me offer two general suggestions: You need three things: Tenacity, serendipity, and ability. The tenacity to knock on a thousand doors. The serendipity that one of those doors will finally open. And then enough ability to get invited through it when it does. The more tenacity you have, the less serendipity you need. I know this sounds like a cliche, but much of filmmaking is just sticking with it until you get good enough and/or you are the last man/woman standing. My second suggestion is a bit grimmer. You have to want it more than anything else in your life. I am not married and never had children. I've never owned a house. I've lived in 30 places in the past 18 years. The longest relationship I've ever had is with my bicycle. I can't even successfully raise arugula. You have to be willing to sacrifice all of that - and more - because you are competing with people like me and we are willing to make those sacrifices. That said, if I retired today I would do exactly the same thing tomorrow. I am utterly and blissfully happy with my life. I'm not sure many people could say that about their jobs.

donaldfranklinhornii10 karma

Would you consider the revolutions that gripped the Arab world to have been successful?

KarinMuller20 karma

Excellent question! How do you define "success"? The sad truth is that most Arab countries who went through recent revolutionary upheaval are now considerably worse off than they were before. On the other hand, what I saw in Tahrir Square during the Morsi revolution - half a million people ready to put themselves in harm's way for the future of their children - was extraordinary. The air crackled with energy. History was being made, and everyone knew it. It changed people in very fundamental ways. You cannot unring that bell. I am very hopeful that once the proper institutions are in place - an independent judiciary system, a solid middle class, a free press - they will try again and succeed.

donaldfranklinhornii7 karma

Successful as: by the metrics the people set up i.e. getting legal reform, electoral form, etc.

KarinMuller21 karma

Not successful at all. We have this well-meant but naive belief that we can helicopter in democracy. Give everyone a voting booth and a purple finger and everything will turn out all right. In truth democracy cannot flourish (or even survive) without half a dozen supporting institutions that we in the west take for granted. An educated population. Freedom of the press. Independent judiciary... We have to help them to create and stabilize these institutions before we ask them to put their faith in our democratic system.

tevek18 karma

Any thoughts on Fox taking control of Nat Geo?

KarinMuller16 karma

Ouch. I know I'm not supposed to post short answers, but that pretty much covers it. And an image I saw a recently-fired employee post of a gravestone with National Geographic on it. I am hoping that we are all wrong and that the organization stays true to its mission.

ApollonianSausage7 karma

Hello Karin!

Egyptian here, thanks for doing this AMA :) I find it interesting to learn from an outsider's point of view. My question is how hard it is adapt to the diverse range of environments you have visited? Do you ever feel strong fear towards a certain aspect of one of them? And how do you deal with that fear?

KarinMuller8 karma

This question is hard for me to answer because I've been doing this for so long that it no longer feels odd to enter a new culture. For one thing, I can tap into a number of tools and techniques that have worked in the past. I also have an unshakeable belief in the fundamental goodness of human nature, which means I'm rarely afraid of people unless it's a very specific situation (like a road block in border territory between two warlords) and then I'm too busy figuring out how best to handle it to be frightened. But most of all, it is absolutely energizing to be allowed into another culture. Every sense is engaged. It's like you're 4 years old again - you want to touch everything, taste everything, experience and understand everything. You take nothing for granted. You are completely in the moment. It's like life in living color compared to the black and white of ordinary existence. THAT is worth anything.

Copywrites7 karma

What goes through your mind in near death moments?

KarinMuller21 karma

Surprisingly, you are not in the least bit afraid - you're far too busy. Your brain is calculating options and angles at a million miles a minute. It's like a chess game at warp speed with life and death consequences. The times when I am most afraid are when nothing is happening. Do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex is coming and you can see the glass of water rippling every time he takes a step? Those are your true moments of terror - knowing you did something really stupid to put yourself in this position and now you just have to wait and see if the end result is going to be terrible.

curiouserthangeorge5 karma

How do you get access as a single woman traveling in areas where women are viewed as property or less? What do you do to prevent sexual assault?

KarinMuller32 karma

This may surprise you, but being a woman (vs a man) can be quite an asset. As a woman, you have far more access to local women. Because you are a Westerner, you also have some access to men that local women wouldn't have. You are thought of as something akin to a third gender - not quite female (but harmless to females) and not quite male (but with enough credibility to hang with them). Other advantages: people want to help and protect you. Women in particular look out for you. If you're in the Middle East you can wear a burka and become practically invisible. Men are not intimidated by you so it's easier to talk your way out of trouble.

Preventing sexual assault. #1 - don't get into a stupid situation in the first place. You need to develop a really good set of social antenna and study the history/language/politics/ and culture of the place you are going to. If you don't speak the language fluently then get a really good fixer and listen to him/her. If all else fails - I have two black belts and boxed for a couple of years. All of which is completely useless when everyone else has a machine gun. Keep your cool and talk your way out of it.

curiouserthangeorge8 karma

you are a serious badass!

KarinMuller8 karma

Thank you for making me laugh! That may explain why I'm still single...

romanmoses-4 karma

Women are not viewed "as property or less". What a despicable way to load a question. They are treated differently than men, but that is not to say they are looked at as lesser by any means. I found your question very offensive.

curiouserthangeorge5 karma

so you're telling me there are no places in the world where women are viewed as property or less????

romanmoses5 karma

I'm sorry I thought you were referring specifically to Egypt. Somewhere close to home.

KarinMuller6 karma

This is in part my fault - I have been very much focused on Egypt in this AMA. I have a two-hour public television series that is going to premiere in a couple of months so I definitely have Egypt on the brain. I shall try to expand my answers....

UnAmusedCynic2 karma

Do you find yourself more exposed to diseases, parasites, etc? How do you guard your health?

KarinMuller13 karma

Wow - great question. Are you sure my mother didn't set you up to ask that? She's a doctor and this is what she worries about most. 1) for the first few weeks, expect to get intermittent gastroenteritis. That's your body getting used to the local bacterial flora and fauna. 2) carry a really good medical kit and know how to use it. 3) if an epidemic disease comes through, you'll probably catch it. On the upside, your immune system is almost certainly stronger than any of the locals so you'll weather it better than most. 4) This one really matters if you're alone. If you are getting really sick, pin a note to your chest and start heading to the nearest city with a western hospital. If you get too sick to move and you are in a remote village, the villagers will just leave you there (it's what they would do with each other). If you are on your way (in a bus, for example) with a note that says, "please get me to X hospital in X city") in the local language then everyone will keep moving you in that direction even if your are unconscious. Before you head for home (even if you are healthy), go to the local hospital and give them a few stool samples to check for parasites (sorry to be so graphic). They know what's local so they're far more likely to find it if you have caught something. And if your mother is a doctor then you will be far more welcome at Thanksgiving if you can prove that you are not bringing a bunch of parasites with you.

NorbitGorbit2 karma

how does the process of getting releases from participants differ from country to country?

KarinMuller6 karma

It doesn't vary from country to country - it varies from broadcaster to broadcaster. They each have their required forms, and getting them signed is an incredibly annoying chore. I am lucky in that I am almost always living with/spending a lot of time with my subjects so when I finally get around to the paperwork, they know and trust me. You can sometimes get them to provide a release on camera, especially if they are illiterate.

romanmoses2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. Much appreciated. I have three questions.

What are some of the places you have been and for how long?

Have you stayed with a remote community that treated women as property? What was that like?

And lastly, a random but interesting one: what place/community had the most twisted sexual perversions?

KarinMuller8 karma

Some of these are the sum of multiple trips Philippines - 2.4 years Japan - 1 year Vietnam - 1 year East Africa - 1 year Andes - 1 year Cuba - three months North Africa - 5 months Switzerland - by birth and citizenship China - three months A bunch of other places that I didn't film and I was raised largely in Puerto Rico and Australia.

Women as property: I accept their rules and abide by them, though I don't personally agree with them. That said, you would be surprised how free, lively, open, fun, and friendly the women are once they are behind closed doors and in "their" space. I've had very frank discussions about sexually with women who wouldn't dream of going out the door in anything less than a full burka. In conversation at least, I found the women in those societies to be more open than the men. By the way, they are often equally disdainful of our system.

Sexual perversions: you would have to define "twisted" for me. Sexual mores and morality are a very relative construct. I was in the Tibetan Himalayas where they practice polyandry (multiple husbands). I lived with the first (of four) wives of a Maasai chief. Some societies encourage homosexuality and some are rabidly against it. My personal definition (which is not what you asked) of sexual perversion is anything that is violent (even worse if it's involuntary or strongly encouraged by the culture). Female genital mutilation fits that definition. But then, so does breast augmentation...

Tajomstvo2 karma

Are there any stories you haven't had a chance to tell/publicise?

What was your worst/best experience overall?

Do you plan on writing any more books in the future?

KarinMuller7 karma

Last question first: I try to prep, shoot, and post a two-hour series each year. That's already 80-hour weeks - I simply don't have time to write books (though I dearly miss it). The best experience I've already mentioned in another post - seeing the extraordinary kindness, courage, and generosity of people who are themselves in the direst circumstances. The bad stuff you bury and never talk about with anyone. It's like Dr. Seuss's pink stain - why would I want to spread depression, horror, and despair...

letsplayordy2 karma

Do you enjoy it?

KarinMuller8 karma

Enjoy is a loaded word. Here's what I find so attractive about it: you are in the middle of something much, much larger than yourself. You are watching history happen. At the same time you are seeing (and deciphering) the details and figuring out what's really going on. It's like an enormously important puzzle and you get to see it from the inside out. Few people noticed during the Mubarak (first Egyptian) revolution that it was the Muslim Brotherhood who was handing out the tea and setting up the tents. That was a very important clue to what came after. You only have access to that kind of information if you're on the ground.
I guess the short answer is, your curiosity has to outweigh your fear.

DubyaLush2 karma

*What is the most breath taking view/scene/thing you have ever witnessed?

*What would you consider your most meaningful work?

KarinMuller12 karma

I could spend all night thinking about your first question, but here is my gut answer: you are in a refugee camp or desperately poor village. You are invited into a hovel. A place is immediately set for you at the dinner table. People who have nothing give everything. Conflict zones show you the atrocities that people can commit upon each other, but they also show you the extraordinary generosity of spirit that human beings are capable of. I always come home stunned and humbled by the kindness I see in the world's most desperate places and by the joy people find in life even though they have almost no material possessions.

If I can create empathy, compassion, and understanding between cultures then that is my most meaningful contribution. I try to do that in every film and book, so there is no one project I could name. It's also why I started my nonprofit. We will never find peace if we don't understand and humanize each other.

DubyaLush1 karma

Those are both very powerful statements. Thank you for taking time to answer my questions and I wish you good luck in your endeavors to counter ignorance and hate.

KarinMuller3 karma

Thank you! :)

peanuts_for_sale2 karma

Has your experience changed your perspectives on life? What's it like returning home after leaving a war zone?

KarinMuller11 karma

Oddly enough, it's more jarring to come home than it is to head out into the field. On your way out you are expecting it to be difficult and stressful. When you come home you expect everything to be perfectly wonderful. Some of it is - hot showers, pizza, a soft bed at night. But your experience has changed you in ways you cannot imagine, and you suddenly realize that you no longer fit in. If your family and friends aren't "home", where do you belong? That's why so many journalists go out again and again. They're not chasing danger - they just don't fit in anywhere else anymore.

NotACatIncognito2 karma

Was there a situation which made you feel you should had brought your SO/close friend along with you?

KarinMuller11 karma

Excellent! I'm going to be thinking about some of these questions - including this one - for a long time. Yes and no. Yes - for twenty years I dreamed of having a boyfriend/field partner. Someone to share those incredible moments when you realize that you just saw or experienced something extraordinary. I yearned/yearn to share experiences and memories rather than just telling stories. No. If there had been someone else with me when that mob attacked, we would both be dead. I would not have left them behind and I barely managed to get myself out with a broken back and a brain bleed. I honestly believe that being alone is the safest way for me to travel because then I only have to take care of myself. Also, I am willing to take risks with my own life and health that I would NEVER do with someone I loved.

TheMatador11132 karma

What was the most rewarding moment of your career? Something that made you smile and say this is what it's all for.

KarinMuller12 karma

An example: I was in a remote mining town in the jungles of Ecuador, washing my hair with a hose in the central square. A young man nearby was bench pressing two big blobs of cement on either end of a piece of rusty metal rod. I recognized him as a "cargador" - one of the laborers who carried sacks of stone out of the mine. I went up to him and asked, "you do this for a living. Why on earth are you lifting weights for fun?" He stood up (he was shirtless), flashed a stunningly beautiful smile, and flexed. "Chicks love pecks," he said (the only words he knew in English) and then lay down to bench press some more. It was one of those moments when you realize that we are all the same - no matter what our skin color, religion, or nationality. I seek out and gather those gem-like experiences so that I will have something to remember and laugh about when I'm 90 and in a rocking chair. It's those moments that make me believe in the human race. That - as you so gracefully put it - say, "this is what it's all for."

TheMatador11131 karma

Great story thanks for sharing! It really left me with a huge smile on my face.

KarinMuller5 karma

"pecs". Sorry. That was a typo, not a pun. I'm so ashamed...

extrafisheries2 karma

Hi Karen, Thanks for all the thoughtful answers, this has been an interesting read! I'm hoping to travel around Vietnam and Eastern Asia alone after I graduate. Do you have any advice for a woman traveling alone that might not be obvious? Most of what I've heard is to stay out of dangerous situations, but is there something specific you could do to help prevent getting into those situations? Also, what would be a good way to overcome the language barrier on a very tight budget, where a translator would likely not be an option? Thank you for the inspiration, I'm very nervous about traveling alone, but reading accounts like yours helps keep me motivated and excited for this adventure!

KarinMuller4 karma

There is no shortcut for learning a language. Start early, do it every day, no excuses. It's pure bovine tenacity. But it pays of enormously in how much the locals will appreciate your efforts, no matter how mangled. This is going to sound trite, but it's not. Your two biggest dangers are disease and public transport. For the first, carry a good medical kit and know how to use it. For the second, make sure the driver isn't too drunk and the tires aren't too bald. Leave everything else to whatever Gods you believe in. If you really get scared, sleep. People get hurt less if they're relaxed upon impact. And TRUST YOUR GUT. Not your fear or the stereotypes you've been inculcated with. Your gut.

SaveurDos2 karma

People around me are almost beaten to death every day, but i hold back. Do you mean to say you were beaten almost to death instead? Were they like, lets beat her to death, and the vote was slightly in your favor, like 51%? Like you were almost beat to death? Or were you physically beat on, until close to death, but not yet dead?

KarinMuller5 karma

Well done! You are absolutely right. Beaten almost to death. Although the image of a straw poll makes me think of the Shirley Jackson story The Lottery. I ended up with broken ribs, internal injuries a brain bleed (that caused me to lose my vision for just over a day), and spinal cord damage that required immediate surgery and has left some permanent deficit. So "badly beaten" would probably be most accurate of all.

NoveltyArtAccount1 karma


KarinMuller3 karma

I've been sitting here for several minutes, trying to figure this one out. Thank you for making me think. My first instinct is to say that I don't really miss anything because I'm so darn busy - I'm either filming, prepping, charging batteries, studying the language, or toppling into bed like an oak tree. But the truth is I miss someone to share the experience with. Someone to talk to at the end of the day, to compare notes. "Did you notice how the garbage collectors were so excited when they found the oil can? Why is that?" "I heard that certain families specialize in hospital waste. I wonder if they get sick a lot?" An extra pair of eyes. A relentlessly curious mind. Someone to point out all the stuff I missed. There are few things on earth I enjoy more than brainstorming with someone who is both creative and intelligent. That would be a dream come true.

NoveltyArtAccount1 karma


KarinMuller1 karma

Thank you!

romanmoses1 karma


KarinMuller1 karma

I answered this above...

Sehs1 karma

I saw this AmA referenced on /r/Egypt and I'm glad I read it. Very interesting responses so far, thank you!

A bit of an oddball question, what does it feel like to have a Wikipedia page about you?

KarinMuller3 karma

That is a very interesting question! Someone initially put it up without my knowledge (and without knowing me very well) so my first reaction was probably consternation at the many minor errors. I have since found it to be a great resource since it gives instant credibility (work, dating, etc.). Keeping it up to date is somewhat problematic since I'm not a wiki editor but it's worth the effort.

massacra1 karma

what did you think of salvador and why is it your favorite movie?

no but seriously, are there any movies that closely relate to what you do? thanks :>

KarinMuller6 karma

Sorry - I've never seen salvador. I wish my life were half as interesting as any movie I've ever seen. I spent a year in Japan and filmed a four-hour series. Most people who saw it said, "I'd love to be able to do what you do! It's so interesting and exciting!". That's because I took the best 4 hours out of a year - 364 days and 18 hours did not make the cut. I can make an account's life (no offense to accountants) look like Jason Bourne if you give me an entire year of footage. And let's not forget the editing process. That's six months of sitting in a dark room while my eyes slowly migrate to the top of my head like a frog's so that I can see all four screens at once. My feet get flatter and flatter from long hours hunched over the keyboard. Revelation: I'm a badass frog. No wonder I'm single.

SkidmarkLaFlair1 karma

As a photographer, I think that's awesome. One day I hope, that I myself can do what you do. Do you have a website/instagram where I can check out your work?

My question is. How did you get to where you are now? (working for Nat Geo, PBS, .Etc)

KarinMuller2 karma

I have a bunch of trailers on a youtube channel and most of my films are downloadable through my fulfillment house. They are all still under contract with broadcasters so I'm not allowed to release them for free over the internet. My proof on the AMA is one of my recent Egypt series trailers.

There are a couple of ways that you can become a filmmaker. 1) apprentice at a place like NG (if you can get in) - make coffee, photocopy stuff, work your way up. Eventually you'll get sent out on shoots. Or you can go off on your own, make an amazing film, get it broadcast, and use that as your credentials. The latter is expensive and risky but much quicker than the former. It's what I did (I never studied filmmaking.) That said, being an independent filmmaker is an incredibly difficult way to make a living - there are very few broadcast slots and they pay little or nothing for your films. If you want it more than anything else in the world, then do it. I am the happiest person I know...

damianted1 karma

Hi! How do you go about recording the sound for your NatGeo work? Is there a sound person accompanying you or do you go straight to camera with a mountable mic? Thanks for your time!

KarinMuller7 karma

With one exception (and yes, it was a Nat. Geo expedition), I work alone. I will answer in that context.

My video camera has four channels. I always use a really good shotgun and, when appropriate, high-end lav mics. The on-camera mics are mostly for wild sound or when I'm too busy ducking to worry about sound. Most beginners don't pay nearly enough attention to sound and really end up paying for it in post. My audio equipment is high-end and expensive and I make every effort to put it to good use. Did I answer your question?

truthaboutcs1 karma

What do you think about the movie Predator?

KarinMuller8 karma

I'm sorry to say I haven't seen it. Once you've spent some time in war zones and refugee camps, horror/scary movies no longer hold that much appeal. Did you like the movie?

commanderjarak1 karma

What is your favourite ice-cream flavour?

KarinMuller6 karma

Double chocolate rocky mountain road dark chocolate lover's chocolate delight... (I'm Swiss by birth and citizenship).

commanderjarak1 karma

That sounds fantastic.

KarinMuller3 karma

I just made you an honorary Swiss citizen. :)

TechnicallyActually0 karma

Why do you feel the need to add "female" to your post title?

KarinMuller28 karma

Good question. I do a lot of lecturing at universities. Too often a young woman will come up to me and say, "I really want to travel but I'm too afraid to go alone." I guess my title was a clumsy attempt to try to counteract the stereotype that you have to be male to do this job. I also think that a woman's perspective and experience in this particular profession is quite different than a man's. May I turn the question back to you? If I had not written (female), would you have assumed that I was a man?