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 prejudice against women,[3][4] although some may use the terms interchangeably, in reference to the social, rather than pathological aspect of negative attitudes towards women.[5]

The antonym of misogyny is philogyny, the love, respect for and admiration of women.[6]

This term is analogous with androphobia, the abnormal or irrational fear of men.


The term gynophobia comes from the Greek γυνή - gunē, meaning "woman"[7] and φόβος - phobos, "fear".[8]

Hyponyms of the term "gynophobia" include feminophobia.[9]


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.[10]

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.[11]

Professor Eva Keuls argues that violent Amazons are the evidence of the obsessive fear of women in Classical Athens.[12]

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ "Definition of MISOGYNY".
  5. ^ Susan Gaylard, Hollow Men: Writing, Objects, and Public Image in Renaissance Italy, p. 86
  6. ^ "WordNet". Princeton University. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  7. ^ γυνή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  8. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  9. ^ The Shattered Mirror: Representations of Women in Mexican Literature, María Elena de Valdés, 2010, p 74
  10. ^ Works of Havelock Ellis at Project Gutenberg
  11. ^ Horney & Humanistic Psychoanalysis,
  12. ^ Eva C. Keuls, "The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens", ISBN 0-520-07929-9, pp. 3-4