i was surprised to hear, recently, of a man who went to visit his sweetheart's father to get permission to propose to her. this is a tradition i've never been comfortable with. to me, it smacks too much of ownership, of women as property. tying in with the notion of a father "giving away" his daughter in marriage. you can't, after all, give away what you can't own!
not only that, but if you're going to ask permission to seek a daughter's hand in marriage, why on earth would you exclude her mother? is the mother not important, or just that the father is presumed to speak on her behalf?
and finally, it decreases the agency of the woman to be proposed to. i don't know, it just seems that she becomes less than ie someone who is unable to fully speak for herself or to be trusted to make a reasonable decision. she isn't required to go to his parents to seek approval, so he is presumed to have full agency while she is not.
i found my reaction to this pretty interesting, given that i'm not at all opposed to arranged marriages. but in that case, both sets of parents (and initially their representatives) are talking to each other. and these days, the couple usually meet and approve of each other before the marriage can go ahead.*
in the western situation, i guess i'd feel much more comfortable if the proposal was made and accepted, and the couple went to both sets of parents to seek their blessings. it's good to have family on-side after all, and i do believe in strong family relationships. i just don't like the way that women are made invisible under customary practices.
*i know things haven't always been that way, and i don't in anyway approve of forced marriages.