My previous post on the topic caused a lively discussion which, unfortunately, went out of hand so that I had to close the comments, however, I decided to return to the topic as I found a very interesting data which basically supports my point of view.
Below is a graph showing the percentage of never married females in England and Northern Europe around 1800 well before modern feminism) as compared to China. I found it through this blog, but it originally was posted by Erwin Schmidt.
Mr Mangan proceeds to explain it by the fact that (Northern) Europeans didn't get married and start having children until they could afford their own household.
If you look at the graph, you'll notice some interesting things: the average age of the first marriage for women was even higher in Scandinavian countries than it was in England. Also an Englishwoman not married by the age of 37 risked not to get married at all, but it was not true for Sweden and even less so for Denmark, where the percentage of never married females continued to fall till it reached its lowest point about the age of 45.
As you can see for yourself, not every woman married at 18, and some (around 20% in England vs 10% in Denmark) didn't marry at all.
A woman at the age of 45 is nearing the end of her reproductive years yet still some Northern European women married in their 40s and around 40% of Scandinavian women were still unmarried at the age of 30.
I'm by no means trying to say that it's somehow wrong to marry young, if a woman finds a suitable mate at the age of 18 I'd say, good for her, but it's hardly realistic to expect the majority of girls to find a husband by this age. Of course it's hardly wise to intentionally delay marriage until you are 45, and as Christians we know that casual sex is wrong and sinful, but falling into another extreme and stating that a woman who isn't married by the age of 24 is a hopeless spinster is hardly helpful and is not supported by the historical data, either.
Feminists surely do a lot of damage with their propaganda of "having fun" in the way caddish men do and then settling down in your 40s, but not every woman who marries later in life does it because she wanted to have a career and jump from bed to bed instead. It could be so that she simply wasn't able to find a suitable husband, and no, I don't believe a girl should accept the first man who comes along even if he is a recovering alcoholic or someone who can't hold down a job.
In fact, I think that the youthful age at which the parents of baby boomers married contributed to the rise of the modern feminism. Before the WWII most women would work before they married to save money and then marry and quit working. Marriage was seen as a woman's career and it was considered incompatible with employment outside home, more or less, though there were exceptions, of course. The mothers of baby boomers married young and often continued working until they got their first child and sometimes even later precisely by the reason that the couples got married before they were financially established.
This situation, imo, contributed to the destruction of taboo about married women being employed outside home. If you remember, the slogan of feminists used to be you will have it all together, i.e., there will be no need to choose between family and career. We all know how this worked out.
BTW, if you follow the link to the blog of Mr Schmidt, you'll see a corresponding graph for men which shows that 40 to 50% of Northern European men stayed unmarried at the age of 30, precisely for the same reason women did: a man was not supposed to marry until he was able to support his family. Nowadays, guys will marry with a full expectation that their wives will continue working and "contribute" to family finances, as the men's pride in being the family breadwinner is all but gone.
You'll also notice that some women stayed unmarried and were presumably employed in normal feminine occupations, such as teaching, nursing or domestic service. The truth is that it's unrealistic to expect that 100% of women won't work. We need female labour to some extent, though not to the extent feminists promote it. I'm not suggesting anything radically new, just the return to the old system where a woman could choose between career in the home or outside of it, and wives mostly didn't pursue paid employment.
It was probably not the ideal system, but it worked for at least several hundred of years which is more than what we can say about the present one.