What To Know About The Fear of Women
Updated February 09, 2020
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
For those who suffer from the fear of women, you may not be entirely aware of how this fear impacts your daily life. Learning more about this interesting condition is the first step to understanding it before moving forward to a healthy and fulfilling life.
Gynophobia, more commonly known as the fear or loathing of women, is a social phobia. 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 families, including mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins. Moreover, those who fear or detest women abstain from sexual intercourse with women or marriage to women. We'll dive further into this topic throughout the article.
A Closer Look at the Fear of Women
Medical specialists often attribute gynophobia to traumatic experiences that an individual has gone through that have involved 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 a whole as untrustworthy or otherwise deceitful.
Both adults and children are capable of suffering from gynophobia. If this fear and discontentment with women are not addressed, it tends to carry over into adulthood. This type of fear affirms that persons who suffer from this social phobia view women as physical and emotional threats.
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 gender can breed apprehension. Overall, individuals as young as 10 years old are more prone to phobias than their older counterparts. Although mental health specialists remain uncertain about the exact cause of gynophobia, negative experiences with women remain 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 parent of misogyny.
Gynophobia's classification as a social anxiety disorder explains why 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.
Different than Misogyny
Unlike gynophobia, misogyny is entirely within one's control. Individuals who loathe women and 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 aforementioned 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 have hatred and contempt for women who "don't act by beliefs the misogynist has about how women should think and behave."
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.
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 an individual's career, personal and 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 many cases, a doctor will advise individuals who have gynophobia to either engage in therapy or take medication.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Individuals who have gynophobia may 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 above forms of therapy. More often than not, medication is used to ease the gynophobic offshoots of panic attacks and anxiety. However, the 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 a somewhat contrasting manner.
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. Medication mainly focuses on tackling the symptoms of the phobia, not the underlying cause.
Seeking the Help of a Counselor
As previously stated, conquering gynophobia is a process. It does not happen overnight, although having a strong support system can make recovery 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 that will prove invaluable to them as they journey through life.
Overcoming battles, phobias, and obstacles can be challenging on your own. 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 is yours. No matter how severe your condition, 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. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Brandon has been great and really instrumental in helping me get through a difficult period in my life. He is non-judgmental, responsive, and a great listener. He is also great at reading into what you are saying and finding the underlying cause of your fears and helping you work through it. I'm excited to continue the work to heal with the help of Brandon."
"Ari has been great. I like his logical approach to things, and he has been able to teach me tangible things I can use every day to manage my anxiety. He gives me the time to speak about what is bothering me and never passes any judgment. Instead, through his wisdom, he is able to show me different perspectives and approaches them with me very gently. I really appreciate this. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is ready to get the help they need."
How to Work on Your Phobia
Every human being is faced with various challenges or difficulties that they must overcome. Focusing your energy towards overcoming the phobia is considerably more productive and will benefit each person in the long run. That said, here are some ways that you can tackle your gynophobia on your own.
- Do Your Best to Understand Your Fear
Phobias do not just come out of anywhere. As we discussed above, phobias will typically come from traumatic experiences that have been ingrained into our personality at a very young age as a result of external influences. The only way that one can properly fight a phobia is to understand where that fear is coming from. Take some time to think about when you first started becoming fearful of women and how it changed over time.
- Know the Extent of Your Fear
Some people with phobias may have a moderate struggle dealing with their fears, while others may have more severe reactions that can completely debilitate them if they are in the presence of the thing they fear most. Do you know where your reaction lies? Can you be in the same room as women, or does the mere thought of being around a woman paralyze you? How extensive is your fear, and what can you do to decrease that?
- Try Testing the Waters
Going too fast, too soon, can have a detrimental effect on the recovery process, and it is not recommended that you try to face your fears all at once. However, you should try to see if you can face your fears one step at a time. When you see that you are more than capable of being around women without something bad happening, you are able to do it more often and relieve yourself of your fears.
While phobias may seem unconquerable, plenty of people who have had their own overwhelming fears have been able to work through them, and you can do the same. You can learn more about your fear of women and what you can do to conquer it using the guide above. Without the fear of women holding you back, you can accomplish more in life--all you need are the right tools. Take the first step.