Gynophobia (also spelled as gynephobia) is an abnormal fear of women. In the past, the Latin term was used, horror feminae, literally meaning "fear of women". The word caligynephobia is also coined to mean the fear of beautiful women. For the latter one also the expression venustraphobia is used .
It should not be confused with misogyny, which is dislike of or prejudice against women, although the term may be seen used in this meaning as well.
Gynophobia used to be considered as among driving forces toward homosexuality. Havelock Ellis in his 1896 Studies in the Psychology of Sex 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 Naktheit im 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.
Wilhelm Stekel in his book "Sadism and Masochism: The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty" discusses horror feminae of a male masochist.
Among manifestations of gynophobia in human culture some author consider the myth about Amazons (Eva Keuls argues that violent amazons are the evidence of gynophobia in Classical Athens.) and mediaeval witch hunts.
Both misogyny and gynophobia, as well as oppression and discrimination of women have prominently been present in monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
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