Clearly you are not the parent of a young woman. Nor are you or have you ever been a woman.
That's true. I admit, I was speaking only from my perspective.
It is not buying the commodity of a womans "sexuality" to ask for the parents' blessing of a marriage proposal. It is common courtesy and showing respect for both your young lady's parents an your young lady, herself.
Asking for parental blessings before becoming engaged is an acknowledgment of the accumulated wisdom of the girl's parents and shows them the respect and homage due to them. To get engaged without such a blessing in foolish and disrespectful.
Allow me to put some context to this story:
I stopped respecting her parents after I saw my girlfriend for the first time with bruises from her father (who is, of course, an overbearing Asian brain surgeon). Her parents tried so hard to get her into Stanford and an elite education that they beat her for getting less than a 90 on a progress report (not even a final grade). I was turned off by them after I learned that the parents regularly left the kids at home to go to the bars and get drunk, yet they had the nerve to tell their daughter that she couldn't marry a Catholic because the Mass is an act of ultimate blasphemy and papists go to hell.
The parents' criteria for a suitable husband for their daughter was very specific:
he must graduate from an accredited university with a bachelor's degree;
he must show proof of employment and annual earnings of at least $70,000 per year (no one in my family has ever made that much money before!);
and he must be of the evangelical Protestant religion.
And don't even get me started on their discussions about a dowry (coming from the husband, not the wife).
When I engaged my girlfriend, her parents had "excommunicated" me for a year already, and for a year, we never saw each other in person or talked on the phone because she would be beaten if my number appeared on the phone bill. We had to keep our relationship a secret for a very long time.
Back to the point: you may be right that asking for a parent's blessing is better. But I hope my story above explains my disdain for the idea.
Your rather "modern" and unsettlingly feminist notions of it being "insulting" and "disrespectful" because it "ransoms her sexuality" is the absurd flight of fancy of a young man trying too hard to say the right, politically correct and social expedient thing.
Now, CaroleK, be fair: I didn't use the words "insulting" or "disrespectful". You can do a word search via Ctrl+F to verify that.
I used the word "ashamed", in application to myself. The reason I used that word is because if I listened to my mother when I was growing up, I wouldn't be who I am today. My mother raised me rigorously in "the pope is the Antichrist and will invade the U.S. with his Jesuit armies and force everyone to worship on Sunday" Seventh-day Adventism, and for years before I converted to Catholicism, I was a youth leader and cornerstone member of that SDA church. After I had discovered the Catholic faith, though, everything went downhill on the home front. I vividly recall one of our theological disagreements which ended in her hitting me on the back with a stick, and breaking the stick!
You see, if I listened to my mother like a "good boy" should, she'd be dictating to me my career as well as my religion, and I'd be going to med school (obviously, my mother is also an Asian nurse, just like my girlfriend's overbearing Asian doctor of a father), even though I'd much rather be a garbage collector than a doctor. She'd tell me who I can or can't marry, what race she has to be, how old, and everything else. Her overbearing nature is one reason I "ran away" (sort of) from home to join the military and live as independent of a life as possible from her.
because it "ransoms her sexuality" is the absurd flight of fancy of a young man
As I said earlier in this reply, part of the reason I said it "ransoms her sexuality" is because the parents in my case expect their daughters' husband to pay a dowry and meet their ridiculous demands.
I'd also mention here the strange overtones of the one or two times, before my fallout with her parents, when we attempted to do traditional courtship. I went out to a fancy restaurant with her family, and when I saw my girlfriend, she was wearing so much makeup that she looked almost like a different person, and a very low-cut dress with no bra. My girlfriends usually dresses modestly with no makeup; it was her parents that forced her to do that to make her more "marketable".
ALL THAT BENG SAID: it's not my intention to ridicule valid traditions and family values, so in regard to anything I've said which implies it, I take it back.
But as you can also see, I've lived my life as a complete affront to the Confucian virtue of Xiào (filial piety) in order for me and my girlfriend to be good Catholics and make our own life decisions. My experiences have left me with a bitter image of parental demands. Last thing:
the absurd flight of fancy of a young man trying too hard to say the right, politically correct and social expedient thing. Err... sorry?