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Gynophobia: The Fear of Women, Why Some Men Feel It & How to Get Over It

If you are overly fearful and anxious around women, you might have gynophobia – a fear of women. Here is everything you need to know.


Despite the comical representation of gynophobia and the fear of women in sitcoms and shows, we shouldn’t take gynophobia lightly. It can be a serious issue for people suffering from it. 

It doesn’t only harm their chance of finding a romantic partner, but it can also affect their career, their social life, as well as their family life. Gynophobia is medically classified as an anxiety disorder, and extreme cases require counseling and therapy. [Read: Build your self-esteem – 35 funny things to tell yourself]

What is Gynophobia?

Gynophobia is an intense and irrational fear of women. People who suffer from this phobia may feel anxious or panicked at the thought of interacting with women, and they may go to great lengths to avoid any type of contact with them.

This phobia can be rooted in a number of different experiences or situations, such as a bad relationship with a mother figure or past trauma. For some people, gynophobia is simply a result of social anxiety or shyness around women. 

In severe cases, gynophobia can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life, making it difficult to work, socialize, or even leave the house. And worse, men who suffer from this could end up avoiding all contact with women, including in work and social situations. [Read: Get over the fear of approaching women in 3 moves!]

For many people with gynophobia, the fear is manageable with therapy and medication. However, in some cases, the fear can be so debilitating that it leads to a significant deterioration in the sufferer’s quality of life.

It is a condition that has been observed way back into human history and also goes by other names, such as feminophobia and venustaphobia. A specific kind of gynophobia, called caligynephobia, also exists, which is the fear of beautiful women!

Gynophobia vs. misogyny

Misogyny and gynophobia are two terms that are often confused with each other, but there is actually a big difference between the two.

Gynophobia is the fear of women, while misogyny is the hatred of women.

Gynophobes may feel uncomfortable around women or avoid them altogether, while misogynists actively seek to harm and control women. Both gynophobia and misogyny can lead to dangerous and harmful behaviors, but it’s important to understand the distinction between the two.

Gynophobes may be able to overcome their fears with treatment, but misogynists will likely always hate women and see them as inferior. [Read: Internalized misogyny – how to recognize it, fight it, and win over it]

Misogyny is motivated by a number of factors, including a desire to control and dominate women, a belief that women are inferior to men, or a fear of losing power to women.

Gynophobia, on the other hand, may be simply a result of social conditioning or mistrust of women. It’s important to be aware of the distinction between these two terms, as it can help to better understand the root cause of gender-based hate and discrimination.

Clinical Gynophobia and its symptoms

Gynophobia is medically classified under social anxiety disorders, which are subtypes of anxiety disorders brought about by contact with people. As a type of anxiety disorder, gynophobia manifests both physical and psychological symptoms, such as:

-Feelings of anxiety: elevated heart rate, nausea, nervousness, and breaking into a cold sweat when posed with the task of interacting with women. [Check out: Simple ways to calmly deal with difficult people]

-Feelings of apprehension toward the thought of having to interact with women. Men suffering from gynophobia will avoid contact with women as much as possible and their initial reaction, when confronted by a woman, is to flee.

-Avoiding eye contact as well as verbal and physical contact with women. This also includes the abhorrence of sexual intercourse with the opposite sex. Men with gynophobia experience difficulty speaking with women face to face.

-An overwhelming, immediate fear, terror, or worry when you think about or see a woman.

-Understanding that your fear of women is not rational and that it is exaggerated. But the fear you have is impossible to control.

-As a woman gets closer to you, your fear and anxiety get more intense.

-Avoiding women at all costs or even events where you might see women. Feeling extreme fear in situations where you do see women.

-Difficulty doing daily activities because of your fear of women. [Read: Fear of sex – what is genophobia, 15 symptoms, and ways to overcome it]

-Upset stomach, dizziness, or feeling faint when you are near a woman – or even thinking about a woman.

-For children, gynophobia manifests as tantrums, crying, clinging, or refusal to leave men or approach women.

Causes of Gynophobia

Gynophobia is a specific fear because it involves an irrational and extreme fear of women. These women aren’t dangerous, but they still manage to trigger anxiety and avoidant behaviors. 

Gynophobia is a chronic condition and it can negatively affect your life in many ways. People with this condition have difficulties maintaining their work, education, social life, and other regular daily activities.

Like other social anxiety disorders, the fear of women is acquired from negative past experiences. This kind of fear is learned by being exposed to multiple related experiences, which conditioned the person to develop a unique kind of fear directed toward women. [Read: How you can overcome your fear of being rejected]

Such experiences can include, but are not limited to:

-Having unresolved conflicts or past abuse from a mother or a mother figure.

-History of abuse or any humiliating experience from older female family members, such as sisters, aunts, grandmothers, or cousins.

-The presence of an abusive female authority figure other than immediate family, like a nanny or a teacher.

-Rejection, humiliation, or being cheated on from an early romantic relationship.

-Mental or physical abuse, neglect, rape, physical assault, or sexual harassment by women

-Your genetics and environmental issues such as learned behavior from your parents or other people in your life

-Changes in your brain and how it works

These past experiences aggregate to form a learned kind of fear, which makes a person with gynophobia not only fear but also disdain, mistrust, or even hate having contact with women. [Check out: How to build trust in a relationship and make it last]

Who is most likely to develop gynophobia?

Some people are more likely to develop this condition than others. Those who are most likely to develop gynophobia are young people, usually before the age of 10. It usually starts to develop in early childhood.

In addition, if someone has family members with anxiety disorders or other phobias, then they are likely to develop it as well. That’s because they have learned to look at the world through a lens of fear.

Someone with a personality or temperament that is overly sensitive, negative, or inhibited can also develop gynophobia. Because this fear is not rational or regular, this type of personality contributes to developing a fear of women.

Finally, if someone has been told that women are bad or evil by a friend, family member, or even a stranger, then they can develop this condition too. Even just reading about negative experiences with women can ignite fear in a person. [Read: Androphobia – everything you need to know about the phobia of men]

Implications of Gynophobia

Women outnumber men by millions in the world’s population. This means that, no matter how zealously you avoid women, you will have to interact with them sooner or later. This fact makes it difficult for people with gynophobia to adjust to the demands of a normal life.

The most obvious effect of gynophobia is difficulty forming deep relationships, such as intimate friendships and romantic relationships with women. People with gynophobia have too poor an opinion of women to create any kind of normal relationship with them.

Those with gynophobia will also likely experience:

-Social isolation: as lady friends are out of the question, and guys generally prefer female company, being friends with a gynophobic can be demanding, which leads the person into isolation. [Try: The stages to embrace and overcome loneliness]

-Difficulty in the workplace: the person’s inability to work with female co-workers and superiors makes it difficult for a person to stay employed and perform well as a member of a team.

How to deal with the fear of women

Gynophobia can manifest itself in different degrees. There’s the mild type, where you’re just anxious and too shy to approach women. Then there’s the extreme form that requires clinical intervention. Mild types can be overcome by adopting a different outlook on how women play a role in your life.

1. Determine the reasons why you’re anxious to interact with women

As mentioned, your fear most likely stems from a negative experience. But sometimes, there are far simpler reasons that are falsely attributed to women that you held on to during your formative years: [Read: How to get over your first love with a happy memory]

-Low self-esteem. You think you fear women, but instead, you could be afraid that you’re not good enough for women to like you.

-Fear of rejection. This can be brought on by low self-esteem. You don’t actually fear women, but you fear the pains of rejection, which you might have experienced from a woman before.

2. Know the exact thing that triggers your fear

People with this fear often avoid all women because it is easier than dealing with the exact thing triggering their fear. However, the fear can actually stem from a specific kind of woman or one of her attributes. [Suffering from minor gynophobia? Check out: Get over the fear of approaching women in three moves]

For example, people with maternal issues often develop a fear of older women but are generally amiable to women who are younger or just about their age. People with negative past experiences with a female authority figure, such as a teacher, might develop apprehension toward a female boss. In some cases, some cannot interact with a large group of girls but can manage one.

3. Change your mindset about the opposite sex

Your opinion about women may not change overnight. But sometimes, a different perspective helps widen your comfort zone.

It will allow you to view interacting with women in a positive way. Once you’ve known what really triggers your fear, you can adjust by choosing or avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable. [Read: What’s sexy and what’s cute? A woman’s view on men]

When it comes to changing your mindset, it’s useful to keep in mind that:

-Women are just like everyone else; they have different personalities, quirks, and preferences. You don’t need to like them all.

-Interacting with women doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to ask her out, marry, or sleep with her.

-You cannot force anyone to like you. People face rejection all the time, and they’re still here. One bad experience with a woman is not worth avoiding all women your whole life. [Try: Top reasons men get rejected by the women they want]

-You don’t need to prepare a speech when talking to women; saying a simple “hi” or “hello” or even just smiling will suffice.

4. Seek professional help

If your fear of women is overwhelming and requires formal intervention, you can approach a therapist who can give you a full analysis of your fear and give the appropriate counseling.

If you’re up to it, you can join a local support group specializing in this area. Joining a support group is helpful because you learn about the experiences of others who share the same fear as you. [Still struggling with self-esteem and fear? Next, read: Tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]

Should you see a doctor?

It might seem like there is nothing you can do about gynophobia because it seems like a quirky personality disorder. But the fear of women can be a significant problem in your life. Here are some signs that you should see a doctor:

-Your fear negatively affects your work or school performance

-It interferes with your social relationships or ability to socialize with other people

-You can’t perform your everyday activities, such as going to the grocery store

If you suspect that a child in your life might have gynophobia, you should address it quickly. A child might outgrow it, but the earlier you catch it, the better. [Read: Pistanthrophobia – understand the fear of trusting people]

Treatments for gynophobia

Most people who have gynophobia receive therapy for their condition. Exposure therapy – a form of psychotherapy – helps most people. During exposure therapy, the therapist gradually and repeatedly exposes you to things associated with women. In the end, you will be exposed to a real-life woman.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be helpful too. This combines exposure therapy and other techniques to teach you different ways to view and cope with your fear of women.

Finally, sometimes medications are needed to deal with gynophobia, but only on an infrequent and short-term basis. Usually, they are medications to help deal with the intense anxiety that someone feels around women.

[Read: 20 downright strange but true phobias about love]

There are many types of fears, and gynophobia, the fear of women, certainly isn’t the worst kind on the list. Fear is something learned. But it can also be unlearned by facing it directly or simply adopting a fresh perspective. It will help if you remember that women are often gentle beings, not worthy of being shunned or feared at all. Gynophobia doesn’t have to rule you; instead, you can learn how to rule it. 

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...