Watch What You Say

Apple's Steve Jobs as he launched the iPad

This morning I read a front-page business-related story in The San Jose Mercury News, my local Silicon Valley paper, that annoyed me. It wasn’t the article’s topic, the perception that Apple is now too controlling and stifling of tech free market creativity and innovation, that bothered me. In fact, I think that’s a subject that needs examination and discussion. What irked me was the quote used by the reporter at the end:

“Still, says Sadun [an app developer], even disgruntled developers who flee Apple often come back ‘because they’re addicted to the audience and the technology Apple provides them.”

That would have been fine, but then the piece closes with:

“‘I joke that Apple’s my abusive boyfriend,’ she says. ‘He looks so good; I love him; but he treats me so bad. It’s that kind of relationship – you want to leave, but you keep coming back for more.’”

The metaphor is clear. But the joke isn’t funny. Believe me, I completely understand the reporter’s (and his editor’s) desire to end with something punchy and memorable, but how about a nod to good taste – not to mention social responsibility. As a businesswoman, it  may be in Sadun’s best interests to come back to the “abusive” Apple after it has knocked her down a few times. But the same is not true for a woman who has been kicked around by her boyfriend.

One might argue that I am being too sensitive and taking too much offense at illustrative language that was simply meant to make a point about how a tech giant is treating those trying who work with it. Perhaps that closing quote did not strike a discordant chord for anyone else. However, a recent experience has made me more attuned to the use – and misuse – of such figurative speech.

At the workshop presented by The OpEd Project (of which I wrote in my Owning My Expertise post) that I recently attended,  I met Naomi Tucker who directs Shalom Bayit, Northern California’s first and only Jewish agency dedicated solely to ending domestic violence in the Jewish community. As we went around the circle introducing ourselves, and as we worked together for the entire day, I got a sense of how dedicated Tucker is to her work and cause, and an understanding of how she and her organization have acted as leaders in fighting domestic violence not only in the local Jewish community, but also in the larger Jewish community and even on the national scene.

Shalom Bayit is Hebrew for “peace in the home.” The organization’s website states, “We hope that our name will spread a new message — not of keeping the family together at all costs, but of true peace in every woman’s life.” It further emphasizes that Shalom Bayit “maintains that it is a woman’s right to live free from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse: from economic control; from social isolation; and from ongoing threats of intimidation.”

Many, many women read The Merc, including ones in abusive relationships, I am sure. So I would just ask that its writers and editors think a bit more before they publish – that is, if they are interested in getting the right message across.

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “Watch What You Say”

  1. Rose Barlow Says:

    Shalom Bayit also does a great programs for teens to help them avoid, spot or deal with abusive dating situations. The program is called “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” which is a curriculum which has been launched nationally.

  2. Renee Ghert-Zand Says:

    Thanks, Rose, for adding that important information about the teen curriculum/program.

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