I have said such extreme things, things that sound heretical to our cherished Western beliefs. Things like, "I believe that parents should set up marriages for their children."
Let me explain what I think is the counter-balance, though it too will sound extreme to some.
The counterbalance to paternally 'set up' marriages is community. In a true community, the young woman has more choices; indeed, the father has more choices of what men he might invest in, or if his efforts to secure a suitor fail, how to adjust himself to his daughter's choice and maximize this to her benefit and his. A community, in the way I describe it, is a predominantly localized structure of commerce. People are aware in a community of this sort that their economic activity effects those around them. They thus are encouraged to invest in their community and guard it against over dependence on outside large commercial forces that non-community-ists love to invest in.
Some people react against what I am saying very strongly, because they sense that smaller, more provincial community structures will constrict individual choice and freedom. But what the evolution of large scale structures has done is to create a vast wastland where our individual choices are many, but don't amount to much real prosperity for many of us. They had a growth ceiling, an opportunity ceiling, and we are now feeling the limits of it. We are also feeling its effect on our cultural life.
Our 'dating' culture has encouraged girls to lose their virginity early, encouraged boys to 'sow wild oats', and has discouraged young men from postponing sex until they are economically ready to marry and then from finding virgins to marry when they are economically ready. It has not invested in the young men through the dowery, apprenticeship, and small business, but has instead supported dating, the growth of Universities, and of big business, which have extended the 'adolescence' of sexual and economic irresponsibility from the coeducation environment into extended coeducation and on into the coworkplace. Sexual and economic lack of ownership are codependent. Less people are true local owners, more are borrowers, franchise operators and employees. The long distance commerce of big business has discouraged the stability of marriage, relocating persons often away from the extended family and its cultural supports, and has kept men away from their wives and caused some men and women to be unfaithful, and caused some women to leave their man who was making good money in long distance commerce, because she could not endure his being away from home so much on the road shipping or selling. Related to this culture destoying pattern of big business is the increase of debt, especially for real estate, replacing the old forms of family investment, and the increase of dependency on large structures in general, such as goverment and big business jobs and benefits. In a way, technology itself, and 'progress' have become like drugs, creating a complex infrastructure that we are all more and more dependent on. The worship of the "IDOLology" of free enterprise god of 'the market' with its collarary idol of 'more personal choices' has pushed out the ability to see the big picture, connect the dots, and make the necessary sacrifices for things to change, through the very principles of 'the market' localized and culturalized, not through big government restrictions, tariffs, safety nets or tax breaks but through cultural, interpersonal, small-structure vitality and community strength. If we have individual rights, protected by the big structure through law, we also have cultural rights, to be protected by the small structures, which are even more subtle and interrelated than the big structures' collection of bueracracy and law. These rights involve a complex of economic and personal issues which must be negotiated carefully in personal relationships, not so much 'legally', and certainly not greatly hindered by the large structures' legal control. In other words, the parents have rights, if they are loving and responsible, to raise their children, and to invest in them (!) as young adults and to expect a return on their investment if all goes well (!). The community has rights, and this is a network of the rights of the fathers over their daughters, to give them in marriage, not with force, but with loving guidance, and through offering an investment, or dowery, even if with strings attached, and even if this is somewhat influenced by the fathers' business community network more than by the daughters' need for romance, though fathers should consider both. If we capitulate to the large structure, we have 'rights' and 'choices', but little real power, little togetherness of community, and little control over our drives and ambitions which are individualized and alienated from the very same drives that are in those around us. Thus we can talk about 'sex', but we can't talk about how slutty our women have become before they marry and sometimes after, or about how economically and sexually weak, whore mongering, and addicted to pornography and drugs men have become before marriage and sometimes after. We can talk about Republican versus Democrat politics, but not about forming new communities where we have real power. When will we dare to talk about our real longings for community, for significance and power to function culturally? What single men will admit their longing for the sexual 'right' to choose a teenage wife, and find her a virgin through her parents' protection and oversight? This desire is shamed by our culture and driven underground by the individualized large-structure-buracratized 'freedom' which disempowers our cultural local togetherness, investment, and brotherly love.
Okay, I'm frustrated.