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Kelly McEvers, who wrote a great series for Slate about her attempts—-and failures—-at finding pirates in the Strait of Malacca, chatted online today at the Washington Post about her experience getting the story. She had an interesting comment about the gender politics of reporting from the sea. Who has the advantage in locating swashbucklers—-men or women?

Downtown DC: Hi Kelly, Interesting assignment—-I love how you capture both the boredom and the rush of being on an assignment like this. Sure, I am curious why the chat is before the final segment of the story, but I guess everyone else is too. Ready for Part 5, I guess.

Sounds to me that based on your experience, a male (western) journalist wouldn’t have a chance of meeting these contacts (at least in Malaysia/Indonesia). How scared were you, really, when taken into the hold with all these guys? I am assuming it would have been different if they were in their 20s and not 50s…

Kelly McEvers: I’m not so sure that a male journalist would have had problems. See Peter Gwin’s recent piece in National Geographic about the same subject, in the same region. The pirate I eventually met was younger—not in his 50s.

But the gender question is an interesting one: I admit that being a woman makes it easier to my job sometimes. But other times it makes it hard. Especially in Muslim countries.

Arrr—-it’s, a tie?

Photo by Oakley Originals.