Femiphobia is the fear of effeminacy or feminine traits in men. The term was coined by physician and psychologist Stephen Ducat in The Wimp Factor. The word is sometimes used to describe the fear of women, but this phenomenon is correctly termed gynephobia. Femiphobia has yet to be defined in the dictionary but is known to sociologists and psychologists.
Femiphobia is a largely male anxiety, but can also be found in women. In men it can be attributed to a deep-rooted terror of being a woman or more like a woman. It is reported to be a main cause of hypermasculine behavior in men. Femiphobia is also linked to homophobia and misogyny.
Since homosexual men and boys are more likely to show feminine traits, femiphobia is a concern for this segment of the population in two main ways:
1. Gay men are more likely to become victims of femiphobic behavior and hate crimes due to femiphobia.
2. Gay men may struggle with their own femiphobia as a product of a femiphobic society. Gender-atypical gay men may deny their feminine traits and reject feminine men for gay men who are more stereotypically masculine.
Femiphobia is a concern for the larger population. Men who are highly femiphobic act out in ways which are harmful to themselves and other people. In order to prove their masculinity, they may behave in overly aggressive ways, be more promiscuous, or adopt a strict, authoritarian attitude as a parent.
Femiphobia may be shown as violence towards women or straight men who act in effeminate ways; such men are seen as a threat to traditional masculinity. Femiphobia can result in less nurturing behavior in fathers due to the idea that home and family are the domain of women. This outcome causes a cycle: studies demonstrate that men who grow up with authoritarian father figures may become less traditionally masculine. These men then overcompensate by behaving in hypermasculine ways, including a need to control with an authoritarian attitude.
Femiphobia is seen in many societies, but is believed to have declined since the 20th century. Sociologists and social psychologists disagree: femiphobia has increased in Western society since the Woman’s Movement and the Gay Liberation Movement in the 1970s. Femiphobia can only be overcome by a broadening of the idea of what it means to be masculine or a man.
- Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: Chapters Four and Five — Characteristics of Gay and Straight Adults
- The Johnny Depp Factor or Do Women Like Feminine Men?