‘femiphobia’ & ‘feminophobia’: meaning and origin

Probably each coined on various occasions by different persons, independently from each other, the nouns femiphobia and feminophobia denote an irrational fear or dislike of women.

These nouns are from:
– the classical-Latin noun fēmina, denoting a woman;
– the combining form -phobia, denoting extreme or irrational fear or dislike of a specified thing or group.

it seems that femiphobia originated in American English, and feminophobia in British English.




The earliest occurrences of the noun femiphobia that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:

1-: From the following, about the Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), published in The Register and Leader (Des Moines, Iowa, USA) of Wednesday 27th November 1907:

Will Not Leave Stage if He Sees One Waiting for Him.

Washington, D. C., Nov. 26.—Ignace J. Paderewski suffers from fear of women, a form of neurasthenia. The pianist’s managers say that he has recovered from all symptoms of the disease but this “femiphobia.”
When Paderewski is on tour his retinue see to it that the stage entrances are kept guarded while he is on the platform, so that no women can enter. If at the completion of a performance he sees a woman in the wings he will not come off the stage. The peculiar precautions taken while he was here revealed this peculiar fact.

2-: From Battles of the Business Woman, by the U.S. journalist and advocate of women’s suffrage Nixola Greeley-Smith (1880-1919), published in the Buffalo Evening Times (Buffalo, New York, USA) of Saturday 23rd April 1910—the following is about the profession of stenographer:

The members of a profession which has been practically feminized by the inexorable law of the survival of the fittest, which applies in business even more than in nature, can afford to smile at the occasional denunciations of infrequent victims of femiphobia.

3-: From the Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, Arizona, USA) of Friday 9th February 1912:

Bachrin Suffers From Femi-Phobia, Opposite of Usual Malady

Dr. N. C. Bledsoe returned last evening from Tombstone, where he went to act as member of the examining board in the probate court, to inquire into the alleged insanity of a patient from the county hospital at Douglas, named Paul Bachrin.
The case was a peculiar one, and the first of its kind that has ever come under the jurisdiction of the court. According to the examining physicians, he is suffering from a form of insanity classed as “femifobia,” and one which is not generally known. In other words, Paul has a mortal fear of women, and runs from them every time one comes in his vicinity.




The earliest occurrences of the noun feminophobia that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:

1-: From the following, published in The Vote: The Organ of the Women’s Freedom League (London, England) of Friday 17th April 1914, by the British journalist and campaigner for women’s suffrage and women’s rights Constance Antonina ‘Nina’ Boyle (1865-1943):


Outbreaks of Feminophobia, if one may coin an expression, have been rife of late. That spirit of intolerant interference with the liberties of other people, that meddling determination to mind everybody’s business except his own which so frequently disfigures the record of “enlightened” man, has broken out badly during the past few weeks, in new places and also in old. Not in Great Britain or the British Empire alone; oh, dear no From Belgium, from France, from Germany, from the United States, we find these tokens of the universal brotherhood of man embracing in one comprehensive swirl kings, bishops, parsons, male persons of the commoner kind, and the editor of The Times.
The London County Council, among the commoner kind of males, have been guilty of this impertinence in a fashion which, when women vote, will probably be made a punishable offence. It is their habit, it appears, to meddle with the private affairs of their employees, in ways no longer possible for certain classes of firms. It is amazing that this bad, old fashion should survive in a public concern that is supposed to be controlled by the people. Doctors appointed by this body are to resign, if they be women, on marriage; and it appears that their charwomen already have to do so. We wonder what professional men would say if their treatment were to be levelled down to that of the porters? The married woman, it is solemnly declared, has other duties. She is to stay at home and mind her babies and her kitchen. It matters not that the additional income from her professional duties will enable her to keep better nurses and more servants; and we wonder how much longer these impudent meddlers will keep their hands off the Society woman, who certainly should have her visiting and balls curtailed under this drastic system of minding other people’s business. The chief satisfaction to be derived from it is, that the longer it goes on the heavier will be the reckoning exacted by women, who are getting thoroughly roused.
“Mind your own business” has been called—by men—“the Golden Rule.” It is, like so many other of their pet principles, one they do not care to have to apply in any practical fashion. They will insist on their supreme ability to manage our business for us, and to resent our determination to keep them to their own; while the business which they claim, par excellence, as their own, the business of conducting the Government of the country, gives us an object lesson not without value in the capacity of any one section of the people to manage the affairs of all. The last day’s “business” in the House of Commons before the short Easter recess was a shining example of how not to do things; time, money, talk, and opportunity deliberately wasted, and the national assembly’s position turned into ridicule by the silly “blocking” procedure which should have been abolished half a century ago. Less talk about women’s deficiencies, more attention paid to those of men, and a general resolution to mind their own business and to leave women the same freedom, would infinitely become the “sterner” sex and conduce to the greater welfare of the race.

2-: From the following, published in The Manchester Courier (Manchester, Lancashire, England) of Friday 24th April 1914, by the British journalist and author Cecil Chisholm (1888-1961):


On my desk the sinister cloud has been gathering for weeks. Now the boards positively groan under a load of accumulated ill-temper. They are littered with that worst of printed virus, books written in bad blood. And the object of all this hatred—Woman!
At one time it was easy to explain the woman-hater. Either he had been “bitten” or he had read his Bible not wisely, but too well. His wrath was a virtuous indignation against a snare and a distraction (from his ledger). Now it is different. Women are his fellow-workers and competitors. Very often they equal him in strength or ability; frequently they excel him in both. Impossible to be virtuously indignant with an equal!
So this hatred must have other grounds than pique or disdain. The reason of these writers’ wrath is patent. It is mostly “funk.” All these gentlemen are both aggrieved and afraid. Mr. Bax is almost horribly afraid. “Feminist demands,” he says, “amount to little, if anything, else than proposals for laws to enslave and browbeat men and to admit women to virtual, if not actual, immunity for all offences committed against men.” * And whence arises this inordinate fear, this sense of injury which amounts almost to a sort of Feminophobia?

* This is a quotation from The Fraud of Feminism (London: Grant Richards Ltd., 1913), by the British barrister and men’s rights advocate Ernest Belfort Bax (1854-1926).

3-: From The Lotus and the Robot (London: Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1960), by the Hungarian-born British novelist and essayist Arthur Koestler (1905-1983):

A Plague of Blushing
One of the odd and relatively harmless consequences of this predicament is a specifically Japanese form of anxiety-neurosis called ‘homophobia’ (or anthropophobia). It is described by a leading Tokyo psychiatrist as follows:
‘Of nervosity symptoms, homophobia appears most frequently. In this is included fear of blushing when appearing before a person, feeling of getting stiff or oppressed before an individual, worrying over oneself of being unable to see straight into the speaker’s eyes, worrying that one’s own facial expressions give displeasure to the other party, etc.’
In other words, ‘homophobia’ is an extreme form of self-consciousness and timidity—combined, one supposes, with a good deal of repressed aggression. If one looks for a correspondingly common affliction in the West (or in India), one would have to coin the term feminophobia—the behaviour of shy young men in the presence of members of the opposite sex. But that is just the point: in Japan this kind of blushing, bashful behaviour is not caused by a sexual, but by a social complex—the constant, nagging anxiety of losing face or causing loss of face.

4-: The noun feminophobia occurs together with a synonym, gynephobia, in Phobia Word Game, by Dmitri A. Borgmann, published in the Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois, USA) of Sunday 28th October 1973.

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