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Gynephilia (or gynophilia) (From Greek gunē, "women," + -philia, "love") is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to adult females, and its counterpart androphilia (from Greek andro-, "male," + -philia, "love") is attraction to adult males. There are two main reasons why these terms have been used: to describe either the age or the sex/gender of the object of an individual's sexual orientation.

Sex and/or gender[edit | edit source]

The terms gynephilia and androphilia are occasionally (but increasingly)[citation needed] used when referring to the sexual orientation of transgender, intersex, and other genderqueer or intergender people,[1] since the terms homosexual (same-sex) and heterosexual (different-sex) can be unclear. In describing an individual's sexual orientation as homosexual or heterosexual, we are not only saying something about the sex/gender of their object choice, but also something about their own sex/gender — specifically, that their sex and/or gender is the same as, or different from, that of those they desire. Difficulties in making these judgements can be seen, for example, in debates about whether female-attracted transmen are a part of the lesbian community. Androphilia and gynephilia are often preferred, because rather than focusing on the sex or gender of the subject, they only describe that of the object of their attraction.

The third common term that describes sexual orientation, bisexuality, makes no claim about the subject's sex or gender identity.

Age[edit | edit source]

The terms can also be used to distinguish attractions to adults from pederasty and pedophilia. In the field of sex offender rehabilitation, the term gynophilia is used to mean "attraction to adult women", in contrast with pedophilia, with the aim of therapy usually being to replace pedophilic desires with gynophilic ones.[citation needed] These describe aspects of chronophilia and within that, androphilia and gynephilia collectively refer to two variable aspects of teleiophilia.

Magnus Hirschfeld, writing in the early 20th century, offered a threefold age classification system for homosexual males:[citation needed]

  • Ephebophiles, "who are attracted to youths from puberty to the early 20s."
  • Androphiles, who prefer men from age 20 to 50s
  • Gerontophiles, who prefer older men.

This threefold age system expanded to include classification for females, heterosexuals and bisexuals would be:

  • Ephebophiles, "who are attracted to youths from puberty to the early 20s." Refers to males and females.
  • Androphiles, who prefer men from age 20-59 and gynephiles, who prefer women from age 20-59.
  • Gerontophiles, who prefer older people. Refers to males and females.

The term androphilia has been useful in describing societies where pederasty was the norm, but where homosexual attraction to adult men was frowned upon.

Other uses[edit | edit source]

A book by Jack Malebranche uses the term androphilia in its title: Androphilia, A Manifesto: Rejecting the Gay Identity, Reclaiming Masculinity (ISBN 0-9764035-8-7). The author uses the term to emphasise masculinity in both the object and the subject of male homosexual desire, and reject the gender nonconformity that he sees in gay identity.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Gynephilia is philologically inconsequent, as it takes the nominative instead of the root, and would have as its counterpart anerphilia (From Greek anēr, "men," + -philia), not androphilia ; while gynophilia is formed in violation of Greek word formation rules, cf. gynaecology/gynecology (From Greek gynaiko-, "female," + logos)

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. For example: "Fa’afafine are a heterogeneous group of androphilic males, some of whom are unremarkably masculine, but most of whom behave in a feminine manner in adulthood.", Bartlett, Nancy H. and Vasey, Paul L. (2006), A Retrospective Study of Childhood Gender-Atypical Behavior in Samoan Fa’afafine, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Springer Netherlands, ISSN 0004-0002 (Print) 1573-2800 (Online), Volume 35, Number 6, December 2006, Pages 659-666

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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