… Especially in eastern counties, but also in the West, there are a lot of ideas deeply embedded in many lay people too. Some may honestly think a bhikkhu lost his whole Vinaya if he’d pay respects to a bhikkhuni, for example. They don’t know the bhikkhu’s rule is in the order of “wearing black footwear” and such–they think it’s a real big deal. So that may stop even the best intended bhikkhus. (For me, I am very very rarely in a situation that I can pay respects to bhikkhunis, so this is not really an issue, but can imagine how it can be.)
Compare it to this: In Thai culture bhikkhus receive offerings from women on a cloth instead of by hand. Now, when you think this looks like misogyny to those of other cultures and so receive things by hand instead, some Thai will think you don’t know Vinaya, even though there is no Vinaya rule against this at all; it’s just a custom. So you may use the cloth so to make people happy. They may even insist, be all confused otherwise–I’ve had that happen. So a bhikkhu may not even like the practice himself, but is sort of stuck in a corner by tradition. And you might just say: well, screw traditions, revolt! But you know, these people feed you and care for you… And honestly think they are helping you!
Also, some people truly belief that giving to a monk is better kamma than giving to a nun, just because the Buddha was male. Just like the other examples, this is not deliberate discrimination even, but just honest misinformation. But not misinformation you can change in a day. Or that you can have a revolution against.
The fact that many monasteries don’t ordain bhikkhunis but only 10-precept nuns, if at all, is also largely influenced by ideas among the laity, who often honestly think the Theravads bhikkhunis couldn’t be ‘revived’. The monasteries fear losing their support if they make contested changes. So the bhikkhus are in a bit of a corner again, even if they do think bhikkhuni ordination is good. You never hear about this much, but it plays a definite part.
Another example outside of the sangha’s reach: There is a national law in Thailand against women becoming a bhikkhuni. I belief there is a similar one in Burma, but don’t quote me on that.
So it’s not senior monastics who hold the strings. Maybe there is some truth in that as well; I actually don’t know. All I know it’s definitely not as easy as that. And if there are those that “hold the strings”, they may not even have to have evil misogynistic ideas, it can also be that they honestly think certain things. They just have their own interpretation of Vinaya, which I can respect. The sangha is largely a wholesome force in my experience, not set out to be discriminatory.
Change just takes time. As long as things go in the right direction isn’t that OK? Now that there are more and more bhikkhunis, and as long as, as you say, there are monastics who do something about things in their daily practice, people will eventually get what’s right, I think. Things are moving the right way, aren’t they? In general, at least.
And through it all bhikkhus and bhikkhunis will realize the dhamma regardless. That there will be, or already are, bhikkhuni ariyas: Isn’t that an awesome thought? Instant happiness! I prefer to focus on that personally.
And to put words into deeds: I think I’ll shut up about this topic now.