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Gynophobia (from Greek γυνή - gunē, "woman"[1] and φόβος - phobos, "fear",[2] also spelled as gynephobia) is an abnormal fear of women.[3] In the past, the Latin term horror feminae was used, meaning "fear of women".[4]

Should not be confused with misogyny, the hatred, dislike, contempt for or ingrained prejudice against women and/or girls.[5][6] Its antonym is philogyny, the fondness, love, or admiration of women.[7]


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.[8]

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

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.[9][not in citation given]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ γυνή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  2. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  3. ^ "WordNet". Princeton University. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  4. ^ Raymond Joseph Corsini (1999) "The Dictionary of Psychology", ISBN 1-58391-028-X, p. 452
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "WordNet". Princeton University. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  8. ^ Works of Havelock Ellis at Project Gutenberg
  9. ^ Eva C. Keuls, "The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens", ISBN 0-520-07929-9, p. 332