DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Joe Bloom, who co-founded the Honolulu men's march against domestic violence, says men must be included as part of the solution. Signs against violence line the hallway at Catholic Charities, where Bloom is program director.
Men’s role emphasized in curbing domestic abuse
Eleven years ago, Joe Bloom told a roomful of nonprofit service providers -- most of whom were women -- that he wanted to do something about domestic violence, and he wanted to get men involved.
They weren't intrigued.
"I kind of felt dismissed," said Bloom, who then went to discuss his idea with Domestic Violence Clearinghouse Executive Director Nanci Kreidman.
Together, they came up with a concept that's persevered and grown: a men's march to protest violence against women.
In 1994, the first year of the event, about 50 men walked a block-and-a-half-long route and attended a rally with a "speaker system" consisting of a karaoke machine on empty boxes.
Last year, 300 walked a considerably longer march, and 200 more attended a rally afterward. In the crowd were business leaders, politicians, domestic violence advocates -- and women.
Organizers expect an even bigger turnout Thursday*, when Mayor Mufi Hannemann will lead the march as it trails down King Street from Kekaulike Plaza to Honolulu Hale. The march starts at noon and will be followed by a rally at Skygate Park.
"Domestic violence is so common in Hawaii that I can say with certainty that we all know someone who ... has been threatened, slapped, shoved," Bloom said, adding that domestic violence is a men's issue before it is a women's. Most times, he said, it is a man doing the violence.
So why not start at the source, rather than with the victim?
"What we've done unconsciously is pushed men out of the issue and made it a women's issue," said Bloom, a social worker with Catholic Charities. "But we have a responsibility to act.
"We have a responsibility to speak out ... to call men to that part of themselves."
Willie Parker, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Queen's Medical Center and an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii Medical School, has walked in three marches. He said that he had wanted to do something about domestic violence since arriving in Hawaii three years ago.
"As a women's health provider, I've seen, too many times, women who have been victims of domestic violence," Parker said, adding that he still encounters women -- even advocates -- who are suspicious of men wanting to take a stand against domestic violence.
"They kind of wonder whether you're there doing penance, asking, 'What's your issue?' and 'Why are you here?'" he said.
But that will not stop him from marching, because a men's movement against domestic violence is too powerful, too revolutionary.
"There's a double impact when men are talking about domestic violence," Parker said. "Men are challenging their fellow brothers. It also gives men who feel that this is not right courage to step up, too."
At the opening of this year's rally, a memorial will be held for all domestic violence victims who were killed over the last year. That includes 22-year-old Felicia LaDuke, who was found dead Oct. 7 at Kaena Point. She had been strangled and run over by her own car.
Spc. Jeffery White, LaDuke's former boyfriend, has been charged with her murder. They had a 2-year-old child together.
Bloom said he expects his march will continue to grow because so many women in Hawaii have experienced domestic violence -- and they all have fathers, brothers or sons.
October 26, 2005
» The 11th Annual Men's March begins at noon tomorrow at Kekaulike Plaza on King Street in Chinatown and proceeds to Skygate Park near the Municipal Building. A Page A1 story in Monday's early edition incorrectly said the march was today.