What To Know About The Fear of Women
Updated December 17, 2018
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Gynophobia, more commonly known as the fear or loathing of women, is a social phobia, according to Fear Of. In most cases, men are more likely than women to experience a fear of women. Individuals who have gynophobia may harbor ill-feelings towards women in their family, including mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins. Moreover, those who fear or detest women abstain from sexual intercourse with women or marriage to women. Gynophobia is sometimes referred to as xenophobia or gynephobia.
A Closer Look At The Fear Of Women
Medical specialists often attribute gynophobia to traumatic experiences that an individual has gone through because of certain women. This could include an abusive or neglectful mother, undergoing emotion, physical, or sexual abuse from a woman during puberty, or habitual rejection from women. As previously stated, men are more likely to suffer from gynophobia than other women are and will likely view women as untrustworthy or otherwise duplicitous.
Both adults and children are capable of suffering from gynophobia. If this fear and discontentment with women are not addressed, it almost always carries over into adulthood. Fear Of moreover affirms that persons who suffer from this social phobia view women as physical and emotional threats.
Proneness To Fearing And Disliking Women
While negative experiences increase one's likelihood of contracting gynophobia, Healthline affirms that other factors increase the probability of a person developing a fear of women. High levels of emotional sensitivity and proneness to negativity makes one more susceptible to disliking or dreading women.
Individuals who have relatives with anxiety disorders or other social phobias may be more likely to experience gynophobia. Finally, observing, hearing, or reading about adverse encounters with the female sex can breed apprehension. Overall, youthful people, as young as 10-year-old, are more prone to phobias than their older counterparts.
Although mental health specialists remain uncertain about the exact cause of gynophobia, negative and traumatic experiences with women remain as the most likely factor, followed by one's heredity, environment, and changes in the brain.
Gynophobia And Misogyny
In many circumstances, gynophobia and misogyny are used interchangeably. Misogyny is defined as the "hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls." While some people view these two terms as synonymous, others make the case that the fear of women breeds hatred, contempt, and prejudice against women. In other words, in the eyes of some individuals, gynophobia is the mother of misogyny.
The validity of the theory above is highly debatable. However, Lovepanky asserts that gynophobia is a clinical social anxiety disorder, unlike misogyny. Although gynophobia and misogyny do share similar traits, the former is a genuine mental ailment, while the latter is rooted in hatred and prejudice.
Gynophobia's classification as a social anxiety disorder explains why the fear is triggered by coming in contact with women. Unlike misogynists, someone who suffers from the clinical fear of women is likely to experience cold sweats, nausea, and increased heart rates when they come into contact with women. Therefore, gynophobic individuals usually do everything they can to abstain from contact with women. This includes avoiding physical and verbal interactions. When people who have gynophobia come in contact with women, they usually feel inclined to separate themselves immediately.
Unlike gynophobia, misogyny is wholly within one's control. Individuals who loathe women who harbor prejudices against them exert this form of negative energy upon interacting with them. Furthermore, misogyny is not a clinical illness. People who suffer from this condition are not plighted with the aforesaid physical symptoms that accompany a genuine phobia of women.
There are many theories regarding misogyny, its underlying roots, and what causes it. While misogyny is defined as a person who hates or harbors contempt and prejudice for women, Psychology Today presents a slightly different thesis. In their own words, misogynists hate and have contempt for women who "don't act by beliefs the misogynist has about how women should think and behave."
A more detailed analysis from Psychology Today reads as follows: "a misogynist is not simply a person who hates women, it's a person who does, or would, hate women who are not subordinate, women with power and status, women who can stand up for themselves and make their own decisions."
The theory above further supports the belief that gynophobia and misogyny are wholly different entities. While gynophobia is a clinical phobia of all women, misogyny targets specific categories of women, at least according to Psychology Today.
Treatment Options For Gynophobia
The fear of women may not appear as a serious issue to most people, but Healthline affirms that this phobia can adversely impact individuals' careers, personal/professional relationships, and the ability to function properly in everyday life. People who suffer from this disorder are strongly recommended to seek out medical treatment if gynophobia begins to wreak havoc upon work, schooling, or interactions with others.
In much of the cases, a doctor will advise individuals who have gynophobia to either engage in therapy or take medication.
Exposure therapy is a step-by-step process which gradually exposes the afflicted individuals to things which involve women. This form of treatment is designed to breed a gradual comfort level with women and steadily rid the gynophobic of their phobia. However, this process takes time and will not happen overnight.
More often than not, exposure therapy designed to help individuals who have gynophobia will start with merely looking at images of women. After a certain level of comfort and trust is built, the person may then be exposed to audios and videos of women. After enough time has passed and the patient is ready, the therapist will likely have their patient venture into an environment with women, such as an outdoor park or mall.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Individuals who have gynophobia may also be recommended to engage in cognitive behavior therapy. This form of treatment adopts a psychological approach to understanding, and ultimately, combatting the fear of women.
Cognitive behavioral therapy encourages afflicted persons to view their phobia in a different light, learn how to master and control the associated symptoms of the disorder, and handle emotional repercussions. After this form of treatment has run its course, the plighted individual should experience confidence, the ability to control their thoughts, and feelings of relief.
In some circumstances, a doctor will decide that medication is more suitable to combat the phobia of women than the forms above of therapy. More often than not, medication is used to ease the gynophobic offshoots of panic attacks and anxiety. However, Healthline states that medication should only be administered in the very beginning stages of treating gynophobia.
If the afflicted individual is prescribed medication, they will likely receive beta-blockers or sedatives. Ultimately, both forms of medicine are designed to tackle gynophobia. However, they go about the matter in somewhat contrasting manners.
Beta-blockers focus on calming the adrenaline that the body experiences during anxiety attacks. This can have a monumental impact, seeing as unchecked anxiety can engender higher blood pressure, wobbly limbs, shaky voices, heart palpitations, and heart rate increases.
While beta-blockers concentrate on counteracting negative impacts of anxiety associated with gynophobia, sedatives lessen anxiety altogether. However, sedatives are extremely addictive and should only be taken with the utmost vigilance. Moreover, individuals who have had prior issues with drugs or alcohol should abstain from sedatives altogether.
Although all forms of treatment are employed to combat gynophobia, exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy hone in on the root of gynophobia, while medication mainly focuses on tackling the symptoms of the phobia, not the underlying cause.
A Final Word
Every human being is faced with various challenges or difficulties that they must overcome. Individuals who have gynophobia or other ailments should never be made to feel as though they are inferior to other people because of this. Sometimes, wallowing in self-pity can be so easy and tempting, however, focusing that energy towards overcoming the phobia is considerably more productive and will benefit each person in the long run.
As previously stated, conquering gynophobia is a process. It does not happen overnight, although having a strong support system can make a recovery so much easier and smoother. No matter what one is going through in life, the benefits of a strong, loving, and compassionate support system are well documented. Being able to ask for help and support is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. An individual who knows when to seek assistance is incredibly self-aware, a trait which will prove invaluable to them as they journey through life.
Everyone knows that overcoming battles, phobias, and obstacles can be challenging. This is precisely why our team at BetterHelp is here. Our mission is to provide anyone in need with accessible and convenient care whenever they may require it. Ultimately, the choice rests with each, however, know that we will always be here to provide guidance, support, and care. If you ever feel inclined to reach out to us for any reason whatsoever, you can do so by clicking here.