Fundamentally, marriage was always an exchange of sexual access for material goods. Some modern marriages may not be seen or intended that way, but the entire history of marriage was about that. Sometimes, when the bride carried prestige or money with her, the exchange was a bit more complex. But basically a man of status wanted the equivalent of “a car with a clean title” when he chose a bride. He wanted his wife’s sexual output to be exclusive to him and he bought that with marriage.
Throughout most of history, women were not allowed to work, to go to college, to start businesses, to own property, to have their own money, to have their own checking accounts. The system was designed so that women were financial dependents on men for life, and the “value” that a woman had to bargain with was her sexual appeal and to some extent, status or breeding.
You cannot set up a system like this and then complain that the people who have no power other than their sexual appeal use that appeal to gain the most for themselves and their offspring. You cannot complain when people without real power use indirect means of getting power, such as manipulation. Give someone the power to run their own lives successfully and they won’t need to manipulate anyone.
If we did not place all of a woman’s worth on her reproductive attractiveness the women we value in our society would change completely. And ugly, old, unattractive men would not be able to use money and status to attract perfect 10 women in their twenties. If men had to compete on their physical attractiveness you would see a huge number of couplings completely disappear.