Answer by Eivind Kjorstad:
Because women in general, and particular their sexuality, is still treated as property. Subconsciously perhaps. One example suffice:
Consider the symbolism of a traditional “western” wedding. The male partner asks her -parents- for her hand in marriage. Meanwhile, the female partner does not need to ask the parents of the man for his hand — because he, unlike her, is considered to be owning himself.
Luckily this tradition is falling out of favour, but we’ve still got this:
The groom stands at the altar, by himself, waiting. Then the bride arrives. She may be veiled and wrapped, like a present. She is led to the altar by her father. The father then “gives her away” to the groom. Her owner has now changed, prior to the wedding she was “owned” by the father, now she is “owned” by the husband.
The most important part of this new property of his, is her sexuality. He’s told explicitly that he is now allowed to kiss the wife.
It’s not the wife who says: “Kiss me!”. It’s not the priest who says: “You may now kiss the groom”, no it is the *male* which is given permission, by a third party, to take possession of that which is the core of his newly acquired wife: her sexuality.
This charade continues; to “consummate” the marriage, to “really” make it count, he must then have intercourse with his wife. Otherwise, it doesn’t count, in some jurisdictions this intercourse even holds legal meaning as a marriage where it does not happen can be considered void. Ideally, she should be a virgin, because anything else would imply that she’s been giving what rightfully belongs to her father and then her husband to some other male — and she’s not entitled to do that.
People rarely think of the inherent symbolism of rituals such as these. Yet I do, and I *cringe* every time I see a woman being “given away” — and I would have REFUSED to allow such a ritual at my wedding. When I married my wife, we walked in hand in hand, together, as equals, and the official conducting the ceremony refrained from saying anything about kissing. We *did* kiss, but of our own free will, and as equals.