This paper focuses on ideology, gender and caste in Tamilnadu, South India. First the epistemological grounding of a critical feminist theory of ideology is considered. The importance of the concept of ritual impurity to the cultural construction of untouchability is examined. The parallel concept of female impurity is analysed in the upper caste construction of female gender. Lower caste discourses of female sexuality indicate significant differences from upper caste views. The analysis concludes that by investigating the multiple discourses of gender and caste in varying caste-contexts, it can be shown that the dominant-caste discourse concerning ritual purity has little salience in lower caste culture.