Femiphobia

princeFemiphobia 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.

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20 thoughts on “Femiphobia

  1. AGREED. I personally love to see a straight man who is so secure he wears pink shirts and never trips. Security is sexy.

  2. Sherry, I love pink. Men in pink is even better. Especially pink polos. I remember there was a whole “pink movement” a few years ago when lots of boys/men began wearing pink. Now, if a guy wears pink it’s a completely different story…

  3. Oh this is like putting a sign on themselves “I’m gay. Form a mob and necklace me” in a township in SA… Well maybe not necklace him, but beat him up at least.. It’s not easy being gay or been seen as being gay in SA for both women and men..

    Works in Sweden though.. No problem, see lots of guys wearing pink shirts and stuff like that.. Heck even hubby got a pink piké shirt.

  4. My culture is extremely femiphobic. That goes with general homophobia, I think. Even a slightest thing can make you look strange, like refusing to comment on random female’s breasts in an all-male company. Or stating you don’t like football (soccer). My husband is guilty of both, and yes, some people see that as strange. But he’s not effeminate at all, so he’s not a victim of femiophobia. (It does make him unpopular in random male company, or even female one – he doesn’t react to women the way young men are supposed to, he usually treats them as equals, and that pisses some of them off).

  5. Nkosazana, how is it for women?

    Mira,

    “Even a slightest thing can make you look strange, like refusing to comment on random female’s breasts in an all-male company.”

    Lolwut?

    The way you describe your culture, it seems highly patriarchal and sexist. The most patriarchal ones are where women willing go along with it.

  6. Well. We got something called corrective rape. Men rape women in the belief that they will be “fixed” and normal after that. I should have brought that up that in my crazy rant on my blog about crime in South Africa..

    Found this on youtube:

  7. The way you describe your culture, it seems highly patriarchal and sexist.

    It’s very sexist, but not patriarchal. I am not sure how to describe it. Men are very, very sexist, and some women go with it, while others rebel. But the culture is not as patriarchal as you might think. I think laws during the Socialism (and the fact women worked and were able to support themselves) helped. So sexism stayed, but there is not true patriarchy (except in some rural places).

    So you have a situation in which 90% of young women are very emancipated (or believe so… We can argue whether imitating behavior from American TV shows can be called emancipation), but men still act very sexist, even if they are not truly sexist (so they can prove themselves in male company, but with the girls, they are ok).

    Commenting on women appearance is just one of the stuff a guy has to do in order to be recognized as a true male, as well as talking about sex. So they will cat call, make sexual innuendo or sexual offers… But in reality, many of these guys are shy and don’t fulfill any of this. Local women are used to this kind of behavior and usually ignore it. Like I said, in reality, many of the guys are not as patriarchal as they try to present themselves.

  8. …but isn’t wearing “feminine” colours more a “metro-sexual” trait or is this another word to replace effeminate?. So confused…….

    @nkosazanaswe: the pictures you’re painting of SA are so discouraging me from thinking of visiting that place. Am afraid my energy my attract negative if I do visit, as that’s all I keep reading about SA……..

  9. Ah I know, but Alee asked for it.. And I’m not a ANC loud speaker that keeps repeating “everything is fine”. If you ask any south african the two biggest problem in our country is crime and jobs.

    It’s really no problem being a tourist, you guys should not be runing around in some areas anyway.

    You like adventure for example?

    Dive with some white sharks! Or go on a safari.. If you like hiking the nature in KwaZulu Natal is amazing! Classic zululand! I should get my great places to go in south africa post out..

  10. Mira,

    “Commenting on women appearance is just one of the stuff a guy has to do in order to be recognized as a true male, as well as talking about sex… Local women are used to this kind of behavior and usually ignore it.”

    This seems familiar, actually. Very familiar. Especially the part about women becoming used to it and ignoring it. That happens here in some cultures as well. It’s bad for the guys too, because it creates a situation where you’re not a “real” man unless you do certain things, which you may or may not like doing at all.

  11. foosrock,

    “but isn’t wearing “feminine” colours more a “metro-sexual” trait or is this another word to replace effeminate?. So confused…”

    You could call it effeminate or metrosexual. Means the same thing, basically.

    In Western cultures it would be considered “metro” (and effeminate). But if you think about it: metrosexual is used to describe men who are like gay men in behavior, dress, etc, although they are straight. And as mentioned in the post, gay men are more likely to behave and dress in gender atypical ways, IOW feminine.

  12. Alee, Mira
    Here in Switzerland ex-Yugoslavian men have the worst reputation for being ways too full of swagger and macho. Ironically, Swiss women lap it up. The men are really gorgeous, so I do understand……to an extent. The problem is, Swiss women are used to passive men whom, when inebriated, can turn aggressive, but yet a controlled aggression, so they still feel safe. Ex-Yugoslavian men on the other hand don’t need alcohol to bring out their inner machos and many Swiss women have ended up being abused……..

  13. Alee,

    This seems familiar, actually. Very familiar. Especially the part about women becoming used to it and ignoring it. That happens here in some cultures as well. It’s bad for the guys too, because it creates a situation where you’re not a “real” man unless you do certain things, which you may or may not like doing at all.

    I witnessed one of those instances today. It’s really so typical nobody pays much attention to; we usually knows it’s just talk and know how to tell the difference between that and real harassment. But I guess it culture specific: I do know some guys had huge problems abroad (even to the point of being sued for sexual harassment), while all they were doing, in their opinion, was giving women compliments.

    Also, as far as I can tell, Italian men are even more forward about it. The cat calling and all is even more aggressive. I know it seemed such to me when I was in Venice, but local women payed zero attention to it.

    So while I am not impressed by that kind of behaviour, I do think it’s a cultural thing and that people should not be forced to act according to (white) western ideas about politeness. It’s not just about femiphobia or cat calling (which are bad, don’t get me wrong), but about other things. For example, some cultures are – in lack of a better word- louder than the others. People talk louder, faster, stand closer to each other, etc. It doesn’t make them more aggressive or rude. It’s a cultural thing and just because it’s not how WASPs behave doesn’t mean it’s bad. But I digress.

    It’s bad for the guys too, because it creates a situation where you’re not a “real” man unless you do certain things, which you may or may not like doing at all.

    Yes. Actually, I think it’s worse for men than women. As a woman, you can ignore it, throw a sarcastic remark or go along with it (the last one is not recommended, though). But as a guy, you are forced to play this game in order to be accepted as a – not just macho, or straight, or real male – but a human being. Guys who don’t act like this are virtually ostracized and left alone. So I guess many choose to throw a comment about a girl’s breasts or mention they’d “do” someone, just so they wouldn’t end up alone. (Without friends). But I’ve met many men who don’t really enjoy doing it. (Playing this guy game).

  14. foosrock!

    Here in Switzerland ex-Yugoslavian men have the worst reputation for being ways too full of swagger and macho.

    I can imagine it. They are, also, really proud about it, and consider themselves superior to Swiss men. This is really embarrassing.

    Ironically, Swiss women lap it up. The men are really gorgeous, so I do understand……to an extent.

    They are?

    I don’t know, they seem so average to me, but I can understand they might seem “exotic” to some women. But I always thought ex-Yugoslavian, and Eastern European in general, women, not men, were considered hot. (Not that I necessarily agree with it… In my opinion, many are way too thin and imitate/follow US ideas of beauty way too literary). But who am I to judge?

    The problem is, Swiss women are used to passive men whom, when inebriated, can turn aggressive, but yet a controlled aggression, so they still feel safe.

    Well, some women do find passive men annoying, and those with more forward approach are seen as more exciting. But it can turn badly. That’s why I was never into macho men. However, not all forward men are really macho – some of them just try to appear as such because of femiphobia. The trick is to know how to differentiate between the two. Local women usually know how to do it (though not all of them), but I can understand if foreign women are unable to do so.

    Ex-Yugoslavian men on the other hand don’t need alcohol to bring out their inner machos and many Swiss women have ended up being abused……..

    I am sorry to hear that. In the first place, I am sorry for the women, and I am also embarrassed because these guys bring up the harmful stereotypes about Balkan people as violent. But you are right: inner machos can appear anytime, and alcohol doesn’t need to be involved… Though alcohol is another “manly” thing to do, and it’s usually tolerated in my culture (particularly for men).

  15. Mira,

    “Also, as far as I can tell, Italian men are even more forward about it. The cat calling and all is even more aggressive.”

    Yes, I’ve heard about that and seen it around my hometown, which has many Italians and Italian-Americans living right outside of it. In a way it can be good, because you don’t have to wait or guess if they are interested. But sometimes it borders on harassment.

    “while I am not impressed by that kind of behaviour, I do think it’s a cultural thing and that people should not be forced to act according to (white) western ideas about politeness.”

    I don’t think it’s a Western idea. Being overly polite and formal may be Western, but common courtesy is universal.

    There are places where touching women and being overly aggressive are tolerated (or even encouraged), but IMHO, that’s a dysfunctional aspect of these cultures. Nothing good comes from their tolerance and sometimes bad things happen.

  16. foosrock says:

    “Here in Switzerland ex-Yugoslavian men have the worst reputation for being ways too full of swagger and macho.”

    Mira says:

    “They are, also, really proud about it, and consider themselves superior to Swiss men. This is really embarrassing.”

    LOL.

    Again, sounds very familiar. :)

  17. Many of u seem to brainwashed with the notion that homophobia and femiphobia is some valid mental issues. Those notions are employed by homosexuals to ligitimize their behavior as some natural established sexuality. The question that should be asked why would a man act as effeminate. Isnt it natural for a man to be and act as one, isnt it normal for a man to react negatively at anything that threatens his essence or should i say offend his character just as any aspect of personality much less an important aspect such as sexuality. So this is where femiphobia comes from. If one would think about it, its not an issue of insecurity its a matter of being offended. In another term the so called femiphobia and homophobia is way to deter and redirect the guilt and to hide the degeneracy.

  18. Hi sam,

    “Many of u seem to brainwashed with the notion that homophobia and femiphobia is some valid mental issues.”

    …They’re not valid issues?

    When a way of being or frame of mind becomes harmful to yourself and/or others, I’d say it qualifies as an issue.

    “Those notions are employed by homosexuals to ligitimize their behavior as some natural established sexuality.”

    There is a good amount of evidence which suggests homosexuality is something natural, i.e. not arising from the outside environment, although it can be influenced by it.

    Check the See also section under this article for more info on that.

    “Isnt it natural for a man to be and act as one”

    Well, you’re going to have to explain what it is to be and act as a man. Is there only one way to be and act as a man?

    “isnt it normal for a man to react negatively at anything that threatens his essence or should i say offend his character…its not an issue of insecurity its a matter of being offended.”

    So people have the right to act out because their sensibilities are offended? Hmmm… If people were to react every time someone (un)knowingly offended them, there would be chaos in the world.

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