A week ago, a few people e-mailed me about various bloggers (e.g., Grammar.police, Matthew Yglesias, and Obsidian Wings) mocking a "metaphor from Laura Sessions Stepp's Unhooked, excerpted in [a Washington Post] review:
Your body is your property.... Think about the first home you hope to own. You wouldn't want someone to throw a rock through the front window, would you?
Well, that does sound mighty ridiculous; for instance, why is "hooking up," which is presumably consensual and even enthusiastic, like having someone nonconsensually break your property? Why is your body like a house? As a satirical version attributed to Yglesias suggests, why not say, "Your body is your property. Think about the first home you hope to own. You want to have a big party and invite all your friends over"?
Yet the ellipses in the Washington Post review suggest that the quote in the review is incomplete; and while the review must necessarily omit some items, it might have made the argument seem more ridiculous than it really is. I therefore actually got a copy of the book, and here's what it says (p. 262):
[Subheading:] Don't let them have what you've got until you, and they, know who you are.
Your body is your property. No one has a right to enter unless you welcome them in. Think about the first home you hope to own. You wouldn't want someone to throw a rock through the front window, would you? Is your body worth less than a house?
Think of it this way: Your body is not an introductory offer. It's a return receipt. Your partner gives you love or at least respect and affection, and in return you give him part of you — and you decide which part.
Respecting yourself means also respecting the person you've chosen to be with. So when you say "I'm worth waiting for," you should also be saying "And so are you." If your partner is not worth waiting for, he or she is not worth it, period.
Now this is far from brilliant prose, and it does jump around a bunch of related but different concepts. Still, the opening paragraph (after the subheading) is considerably less ridiculous than it seems.
The second sentence (the omission of which the Post noted with the ellipses) explains why we're talking about nonconsensual rock-throwing. In this paragraph, the author seems not to be faulting fully consensual, enthusiastic casual sex, but rather casual sex of the sort that is at least not entirely welcome (a characteristic that I take it the author thinks is not uncommon in casual sex). Many young women, the author is suggesting, let men have sex with them even though they do not fully "welcome them in," perhaps because they feel pressured by the man or by social expectations. Not-fully-welcome sex is not the same as rock-throwing, but at least the analogy is closer than it is between presumably enthusiastic "hooking up" and rock-throwing.
The fourth sentence (which is also omitted in the Post review, though conventions of quotation allow the omission not to be marked with ellipses) then tries to tie the body with the house: They aren't the same (for instance, in the sense that they're both great places to have a party), but rather they're both valuable, and your body is if anything even more valuable. Again, not a terribly convincing metaphor, but not as zany or worthy of derision as some might think. Among other things, try the lampoon quoted above on the whole paragraph:
Your body is your property. No one has a right to enter unless you welcome them in. Think about the first home you hope to own. You want to have a big party and invite all your friends over. Is your body worth less than a house?
Not quite as ridiculous, right? And to the extent that the ridiculousness of the original lampoon is aimed at showing the bad writing or reasoning of the book, the inapplicability of the lampoon to the unabridged quote suggests that the unabridged writing and reasoning isn't quite as bad.