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Gynophobia or gynephobia is an abnormal fear of women, a type of specific social phobia.[1] In the past, the Latin term horror feminae was used.[2]

Gynophobia should not be confused with misogyny, the hatred, contempt for and inveterate prejudice against women.[3][4] Its antonym is philogyny, the love, respect for and admiration of women.[5]


The term gynophobia comes from the Greek γυνή - gunē, meaning "woman"[6] and φόβος - phobos, "fear".[7]

Hyponyms of the term include feminophobia,[8] caligynephobia[9] and venustaphobia.[10]


Gynophobia was previously considered a driving force toward homosexuality. In his 1896 Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Havelock Ellis wrote:

It is, perhaps, not difficult to account for the horror – much stronger than that normally felt toward a person of the same sex – with which the invert often regards the sexual organs of persons of the opposite sex. It cannot be said that the sexual organs of either sex under the influence of sexual excitement are esthetically pleasing; they only become emotionally desirable through the parallel excitement of the beholder. When the absence of parallel excitement is accompanied in the beholder by the sense of unfamiliarity as in childhood, or by a neurotic hypersensitiveness, the conditions are present for the production of intense horror feminae or horror masculis, as the case may be. It is possible that, as Otto Rank argues in his interesting study, "Die Nacktheit in Sage und Dichtung," [sic] this horror of the sexual organs of the opposite sex, to some extent felt even by normal people, is embodied in the Melusine type of legend.[11]

In his book Sadism and Masochism: The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty, Wilhelm Stekel discusses horror feminae of a male masochist.

In The Dread of Woman (1932), Karen Horney traced the male dread of woman to the boy's fear that his genital is inadequate in relation to the mother.[12]

Some authors consider medieval witch-hunts and the myths about Amazons and to be manifestations of gynophobia in human culture. For example, Eva Keuls argues that violent Amazons are the evidence of gynophobia in Classical Athens.[13][not in citation given]


The symptoms of Gynophobia are similar if not the same symptoms associated with other social phobias. These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • The inability to articulate words or sentences – limited speech or being completely speechless. (gynophobics are often just thought of as shy)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Uncontrollable desire to flee
  • Feeling of tightness in the throat or chest
  • An itching sensation

A person suffering from Gynophobia may display any of these symptoms. However, individuals generally react differently based on the situation and thus some symptoms could be missed or not displayed.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "WordNet". Princeton University. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  2. ^ Raymond Joseph Corsini (1999) "The Dictionary of Psychology", ISBN 1-58391-028-X, p. 452
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "WordNet". Princeton University. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  6. ^ γυνή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  7. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  8. ^ The Shattered Mirror: Representations of Women in Mexican Literature, María Elena de Valdés, 2010, p 74
  9. ^ Khan, Ada (2010). The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, Third Edition. p. 548. 
  10. ^ An Excess of Phobias and Manias - Page 179, John G. Robertson - 2003
  11. ^ Works of Havelock Ellis at Project Gutenberg
  12. ^ Horney & Humanistic Psychoanalysis,
  13. ^ Eva C. Keuls, "The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens", ISBN 0-520-07929-9, p. 332