Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, August 6, 1999

In memory of Dana

ARE there any editorial-page fans out there who are reading, reflecting and relating? Yes, there are, and they are tapping away at their computers in response to last Friday's column, "Women are tired of cowering from fiends."

Dana Ireland My commentary lamented the 1991 Big Island rape and murder of Dana Ireland, and how the crime epitomized a woman's worst fear. Three respondents requested public anonymity, due to the sensitivity of this topic. I've complied because their comments deserve to be shared:

Bullet "J," a wahine who has lived in the islands for 25 years, wrote, "Paddling at first light, running on an empty beach and riding up mountain bike trails will never be the same. I'm so sad about what happened to Dana Ireland; it could have happened to any of us. Never again will I be able to enjoy the outdoors without thinking of what befell that beautiful, innocent young woman."

Bullet "Nalani," a Hawaii native who moved to California and the single father of two daughters, agreed men shouldn't tolerate crude jokes or degrading references about females because, by doing so, they silently condone crimes against females. "Anytime a person in my presence puts down women, I have always voiced my view," he wrote. "If he was not receptive, I made it a point to avoid him and to point out to others his abusive behavior."

Bullet "Frank," a Honolulu attorney, shared a wonderfully insightful anecdote: "You wrote in your July 30 column that 'guys can't relate' to the fear felt by women. I believe that I can, however, due to an experience a few years ago.

"It was the middle of winter and 7:30 p.m., as I left my Harbor Square office and proceeded to my parked car. A female stranger was waiting with me for the garage elevator. When it arrived, I let her get in first.

"She pressed the same floor on which my car was located, so I simply stood aside while the elevator ascended. I sensed her shrinking away from me slightly, but figured she was shy.

"When we exited at 'our' floor, I noticed her shrink again and look quickly over her shoulder as I followed her out the door. I am a lawyer, not a 'fiend,' and I was carrying a briefcase. But the woman seemed fearful, probably because 1) it was dark and 2) the garage was virtually empty of people, due to the late hour.

"Once this hit me, I stopped in my tracks. I remained this way until the woman had preceded me by a good 20 paces. As the distance between us increased, she straightened up a bit.

"When I realized she had been afraid of me, I was initially distressed. I wasn't a threat to her. Yet she only knew that she was alone in a dark garage with a man she didn't know. How horrible it must be to live with such fear, I thought.

"The next day, I mentioned what happened to my secretary. She said that I had no knowledge of the apprehension that women experience under such circumstances. I told her that I did now.

"I have two teen-age daughters who I love with all my heart. When I recounted my tale to them, they echoed my secretary's assessment.

"Ever since then, I have been more attentive to such situations. I take care to avoid getting close to female strangers to lessen any potential fear that my presence in dark and lonely situations might cause them.

"I don't know the solution. But I will try to do my part by being sensitive to the conditions under which women in Hawaii must exist."

Thanks, Frank. Mahalo, Nalani. And J, don't be afraid. Just keep Dana in your heart as you hit the biking trail.

Dana Ireland Archive

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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