You know what, I am fed up of the negative etymologies of words that refer to woman. So I want to propose that bud med actually means “one who does not fall” (bud du med pa) and hence, “one who is infallible.” What do you say? Of course, I wish this were true! What I actually intend to do here is to collect some thoughts and notes on the perception of woman in Buddhism. But gosh, I have a feeling that so many people have already written so many things on Buddhism and violence, woman and gender, and so on, that there is hardly anything left for us to know or to write! But here, too, I wish it were true. One of my interests has been the ideas (and not practices!) of sbyor sgrol (inherently linked with the problem of sex and violence), a theme that is wrought with difficulties and complexities. And honestly we are far away from seeing a nuanced treatment of the theme in our secondary sources. Here are some venues for exploring the concept of women or female beings (in a Tantric context). But I will confine myself to thoughts found in Rong-zom-pa’s writings.
(a) According to the Subāhuparipṛcchātantra (cf. RZ2: 300), desiring or indulging in “a woman drawn by Mantric means” (sngags kyis bkug pa’i bud med) is like committing adultery. Such a “woman” need not be a human being for she can also be a gnod sbyin mo. The logic behind this transgression seems to be that in such an act, one has the notion of sleeping with another man’s wife. The problem of adultery or rather sexual misconduct is still valid in Tantric context (RZ2: 287). Cf. RZ2: 324 (gzhan gyi bud med bsten par bya ||).
(b) In my study of bodhicitta, I discussed briefly the Tantric perception of woman in the context of the 14 cardinal transgressions. This topic should be studied more closely.
(c) The role or perception of woman in the context of dbang gsum pa or thabs lam should be examined carefully.
(d) The jingling sound of a woman’s ornaments is a sgra’i tsher ma (RZ2: 294). Why? It is obvious.
(e) The Subāhuparipṛcchātantra (RZ2: 289) compares woman to a weapon but contextually it is clear that it is because of her physical attractiveness which can easily unsettle a meditating man. One should not go to watch women and girls (RZ2: 296). A Tantric practitioner should not touch among many other kinds of people, women (RZ2: 199). The Subāhuparipṛcchātantra is a Kriyā Tantric scripture.
(f) It is also worth-taking a look at the concept of entrusting a Tantric scripture to a woman.
(g) Vajra-brothers and sisters (RZ2: 315).
PS. Again a mchan bu containing a derogatory remark on chung ma (bSam gtan mig sgron, p. 19): ’dod chags zhe sdang gti mug dri dang ’grogs pa’i phyir chung ma zhes bya’o ||. But connection is still not clear.
But returning to the etymology of bud med, I now think none of our speculations proposed thus far are historically-linguistically correct. I think the one proposed in Laufer [= Chinese transcriptions of Tibetan Names] 1915: 423 is historically-linguistically more plausible. The component med in bud med has nothing to do with the verb “not to have” (or “not to be there”) but rather a kind of marker of “female” gender.