Bible standards dating
Obviously, Yaakov could not be blamed for protecting his family as best he could.
But on another level, the Midrash is pointing out something extraordinary about this girl, and sees Yaakov's locking her in a box as a subconscious act of "preventing kindness," rather than a caring, protective one.
It’s important to note that in the above (apparently critical) Midrash, Leah’s assertiveness is praised by our Sages in another context as being positive, resulting in the birth of a righteous child with outstanding descendants.
So on the surface, it doesn't seem to be teaching women not to behave in an outgoing manner.
The reason it became a misunderstood story, and not just a harsh, tragic episode in the life of a Jewish girl, was the recent (at the time) publication of The Red Tent, a novel by Anita Diamant.Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she bore to Yaakov, went out to see the girls of the land.Shechem, the son of Chamor, the Hivite, saw her, took her, lay with her and violated her.Dinah wasn't given the choice of connection to Esav; it was completely prevented by her father.
However, it seems that she inherited from her mother the incredible capacity to overwhelm evil – to the extent that she could have been a match for the powerful negative of Esav, transforming and directing him to positive channels.
Her absence is commented upon by the Midrash as being connected to the tragic story to come: "And he got up that night and took his two wives and two maidservants and his eleven sons" (Genesis ). Because if she had married Esav, she would not have been raped,” as it says later (Genesis 34:1) “And Dinah went out." (Breishit Rabba – Vayishlach 77:9) The Midrash places blame on Yaakov for hiding Dinah in a box and preventing her from meeting Esav.