What To Know About The Fear of Women
By: Dylan Buckley
Updated January 20, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: 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, 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 emotional, 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 the fear and discontentment are not addressed, they tend to carry over into adulthood.
While negative experiences increase one's likelihood of developing 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 make 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.
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 home in on the root of gynophobia. Medication mainly focuses on tackling the symptoms of the phobia, not the underlying cause. It’s crucial to speak to your doctor about any potential medication option beforehand, to avoid negative side effects.
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.
2. 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?
3. 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.
- Seek The Help Of A Therapist
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.
Recent research points to online therapy platforms as useful resources for helping individuals work through complicated emotions related to phobias. For example, in one study, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, researchers examined the effects of online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on those with the fear of public speaking. The therapy produced positive results in participants, with gains being sustained at a 1-year follow-up. As discussed previously, cognitive-behavioral therapy works by helping individuals understand and replace the negative, intrusive thoughts underlying unwanted feelings and behaviors, such as symptoms related to a fear of public speaking or a fear of women.
As mentioned above, if you need help addressing the symptoms of a specific phobia, online therapy is there. If you are uncomfortable receiving treatment face to face, online therapy is often a more discreet option. With BetterHelp, you can participate in counseling from the comfort of your own home, via videoconferencing, messaging, voice call, or live chat. Plus, you’ll have the option of undergoing therapy completely anonymously by simply selecting a “nickname” when you register, if you prefer. The qualified mental health professionals at BetterHelp know how to help you address your fears. Read below for counselor reviews, from those who have sought help in the past.
"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."
“I matched with Alex 3 months ago at a time where I felt like I was barely hanging on by a thread and could barely perform basic functions without bawling my eyes out. She helped me face all my traumas, fears and anxieties head on and in such a short amount of time, that I feel like I can conquer anything! She is quick and gets things done, but is also so friendly, respectful and patient. Each session felt like I was talking to an trusted old friend. I would definitely recommend Alex to anyone! Thanks again for all your help :)”
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.
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