Virginity, honour and violence

White wedding shoes with the words Pure and Precious written on the inside

Depending on who you talk to, “purity” is either a wonderful word to describe a high concept, or a toxic word used to oppress people (most often women).

For myself, I believe that purity is a good thing, but that ‘purity culture’ is a form of gender based violence. My ideas are summarised in the purity section (statements #81-90) in my 95 statements on hope, sexuality and consent.

Meanwhile, I see toxic purity culture underpinning practices such as child marriage, rape, FGM and ‘honour’ based abuse. Posts on this page focus on these topics and they are all categorised as moonlight content.


Rethinking virginity: yes, it is about purity, but it’s not like a silk scarf (Jul 2017)

Honour, not sex. Why applying Deuteronomy 22 is more complex than you thought. And why this matters. (Jan 2020)

Picture of man holding a Bible with a woman in the background, as if engaged in conversation though their face aren’t in the frame. Words on top: Honour, not sex. Why applying Deuteronomy 22 is more complex than you thought. And why this matters. Workthegreymatter.com

Five things I’d explain to a teenage girl if she asked about Deuteronomy 22:13-21 (assuming she has the courage to) (Mar 2020)

Young woman looking up thoughtfully with the words: Five things I’d explain to a teenage girl if she asked about Deuteronomy 22:13-21 (assuming she has the courage to ask) workthegreymatter.com

Why do I care so much about the Old Testament rape laws? (Sep 2019)

Picture of woman sitting outside with her eyes closed and a slight frown, holding a closed copy of the Bible, with the words: Why do I care so much about the Old Testament rape laws? workthegreymatter.com

About that virginity test in Deuteronomy 22: it’s not what you think (Nov 2019)

Picture of a bride with her eyes closed, standing against a white flowing veil-like background with the words: About that virginity test in Deuteronomy 22:13-21... it's not what you think. Forget the hymen. This was about power. And money.. workthegreymatter.com

How I used to interpret Deuteronomy 22:13-21, and how I explain it now (in fewer than 500 words) (Nov 2019)

Picture of a bride with her eyes closed, standing against a white flowing veil-like background with the words: How I used to interpret Deuteronomy 22:13-21... and how I explain it now Summarised in fewer than 500 words. workthegreymatter.com

Let’s talk about that Deuteronomy 22 law where a girl marries her rapist. Because it’s not about marriage or sex. (Nov 2018)

Juliet from 1996 20th Century Fox adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, with quote "Proud can I never be of what I hate" and text "Let's talk about that Old Testament law where a girl marries her rapist"

Books of 2017: ‘The Twilight of Cutting’ taught me about more than FGM