Interesting metaphor … being somewhat anti-propertarian by instinct I have to conquer my gut-level mistrust of the phrase “private property” but it’s a good teaching tool in a propertarian world.
The essential problem is that men do see women’s bodies as private property — and they imagine that this property belongs to them.
So we can phrase this struggle in terms of property, a struggle over the ownership of property. It’s one way to express it. I think I would have emphasised more that a woman’s body is her home. Even if you’re a renter, even if you don’t “own” your living space, the rules of hospitality still apply. Even if you’re visiting a rented flat — even if you’re the landlord, for heaven’s sake — you still don’t barge into your host’s kitchen and grab a beer without asking. Because there is a human right to privacy and security in one’s own home that transcends even the dead weight of mortgage deeds and lease agreements.
I think I might have said, “You are a guest in my house, behave yourself as such,” rather than Private Property Keep Out.
Then we might mull over why we metaphorically consider a woman to be like a building (a home, an apartment, a house) and the answer is pretty easy: because even though both women and men have penetrable interior body spaces, our cultural definition of womanhood is penetrability and interiority: patriarchal culture sees women as hollow spaces, vessels, structures which one enters and occupies, which men lay siege to, enter and fill (by penetration and by impregnation). These metaphors are very ancient and powerful, and may be harder to shake off than the “plough” metaphor that melts away under modern scientific scrutiny; so subverting the interiority narrative via a classical liberal paradigm like the sanctity of property ownership is imho a very clever rhetorical tactic, making a challenge to patriarchy palatable even to fairly conventional social thinkers. Well done, Tope Ogundare!
Just some more food for thought… the very definition of “manhood” in patriarchy is “never allowing penetration” of one’s self (guarding one’s orifices and one’s emotions with equal vigour). In Donny Donaldson’s brilliant analyses of prison rape, he emphasises that men who rape other men in prison do not perceive themselves as “gay” — they perceive their victims as “gay”. Penetration defines unmanliness, in other words. And since in barbaric logic penetration equals defeat and vulnerability is culpability, by definition all het women and gay men are losers and therefore not deserving of full human rights. And there you have the rampant misogyny and homophobia of today’s ultra-right, ultra-macho white nationalist movements, in a nutshell. Alpha males in patriarchy cannot imagine themselves as houses… only as tanks, armed and armoured, designed to breach the walls of others.