A shortage of male college students is causing men to develop the so-called ‘Golden Penis Syndrome’, which sees themselves as a prize to be won by female suitors.
The term, coined by students at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, and popularized by American journalist Jon Birger, is applied to heterosexual men who have an inflated ego because of the amount of interest their female peers show in them.
Men believe this interest is the result of their innate desirability, which leads to a greater sense of self and a tendency to become “accidental Casanovas” with bad habits such as cheating, “ghosting” and leading women into casual flirtations.
They may also have poor social and sexual skills because they don’t need to improve themselves to date their experienced female peers.
But in reality, this heightened interest is largely due to a lack of viable alternatives for women seeking to settle down.
In the UK, 57 percent of all higher education students are women. The proportion is higher in the US, where women make up 59.5 percent of all students.
This imbalance continues in the workplace, where there are more women with a college or university education than men.
Conceived by students at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where only a quarter of the student population is male, “golden penis syndrome” applies to male students who see themselves as prized – purely because there is a “male shortage” among the student population. stock image
Relationship therapist Charisse Cooke told FEMAIL: “Golden Penis Syndrome speaks of the delusion that as a man you are extraordinarily and uniquely gifted, sexually or otherwise, and that you are above established standards of good manners, respect and dating etiquette.
“It can lead to overly grandiose behavior and self-esteem and an inflated sense of power over the opposite sex. Women may be stunned by these men, but intrigued and lured by the man’s confidence and apparent promise.
“However, the women are disappointed and furious when thrown out after fleeting or nonexistent dating experiences and disappointing sexual performance.
“Often the sole member of the group, their reputation over time becomes a mixture of Peter Pan and compassionate and casual Casanova.”
Birger, an award-winning journalist, toured American colleges for his book Date-onomics, and found that universities with a heavy female population bred men who “really believed they had the golden penis.”
How Date-onomics Uncovered ‘Golden Penis Syndrome’ at US Colleges Across the Country
One of the ways I explored this topic in my first book Date-onomics was by using American college campuses as case studies. I compared the dating cultures in colleges that are disproportionately male (CalTech, Georgia Tech, University of Colorado, etc.) to schools that are disproportionately female (New York University, Boston University, Sarah Lawrence College, etc.).
To get an idea of how students characterize dating in their school, I used the College Prowler college guide and its sister site Niche.com, both of which are written by current and former students at the schools being assessed.
Here’s how College Prowler described dating Sarah Lawrence College, which has a 75:25 ratio – or 3 women for every 1 man: ‘The girls complain about loneliness, the guys get more than they can handle (and don’t complain about it) , and mindless one-night stands are rife.”
By comparison, here’s how College Prowler described dating at CalTech, which is 60% male: “Students here tend not to date, but have relationships. Breakups are rare and many couples get married after CalTech.”
While working on Date-onomics, I visited both CalTech and Sarah Lawrence and arranged interviews with students. My trip to CalTech happened to be a week after Valentine’s Day and I asked one of the guys I interviewed how Valentine’s Day at CalTech was.
He got very excited and explained to me that his dorm, Lloyd House, had a long Valentine’s Day tradition.
‘What is it?’ I asked him.
He said that all the men make handmade Valentines for the women – and then wake up at the crack of dawn on Valentine’s Day morning to make pancakes for the women.
The stories I heard from Sarah Lawrence were less cute.
A freshman woman told me that she had given up all hope of finding a boyfriend, and explained that Sarah Lawrence straight men have no interest in relationships.
“Why would they?” she told me. “It’s like they have their own free harem. One of my friends was dumped by a man after being together for less than a week. When he broke up with her, the man actually used the word ‘market’ – as if the ‘market’ was just too good for him.”
Another thing I learned from my Sarah Lawrence interviews was that this term you’re writing about — “Golden Cock Syndrome” or “Golden Penis Syndrome” (I’ve heard both) — was part of the campus language. In fact, I think Sarah Lawrence’s students came up with it.
The Sarah Lawrence kids described Golden Penis Syndrome as this phenomenon of men letting their over-the-top success with women go to their heads. Sarah Lawrence’s men seemed to think it was all about them, not the affair. They felt they were special and deserved all the attention they got from women.
They really believed they had the golden penis.
The term was first coined at Sarah Lawrence College, where only a quarter of the student population is male.
But the problem is also present in the UK.
“Golden Penis Syndrome definitely exists in the UK because I’ve interviewed a lot of British women who shared horror stories of average guys treating them like garbage simply because the men had options,” explains Jon, a former Fortune Magazine writer turned dating expert and who is the author of the new book MAKE YOUR MOVE.
“We’re seeing a generation of young men who think they’re Adam Driver or Michael B. Jordan. It’s not about them, of course. It’s the relationship.’
In his book, Birger claims that the “hookup culture” among college students “seeps into post-college dating” and that “proportional imbalances have been a driving force behind both the rise of the hookup culture and declining marriage rates among college scholars.”
“Of course college gender ratios wouldn’t matter so much if we were all more open-minded about who we date and eventually marry (which I think we should be).
“But at the same time, college sex ratios have been skewed, and at the same time there has been an increase in what academics call ‘assortative mating’. That’s a fancy way of saying that graduates only want to date and marry other graduates.
“There has been a lot of scientific research on the influence of gender relations on culture, and what it shows is that dating culture tends to be monogamous when men have an oversupply.
“But if men have too little supply, the dating culture becomes less monogamous – men tend to treat women as sex objects and treat relationships as disposable items.”
He says the change in attitude for men may be unconscious, adding that it’s “human nature” to get carried away after receiving excessive attention.
“If a man gets a lot of attention from women, he starts to think he deserves all that attention. It’s human nature. When women get a lot of attention from men, some women think they are special too.’
He also believes that this phenomenon is common in workplaces with a higher ratio of women to men.
“Because of the way the math works, Golden Penis syndrome probably affects men in their thirties and forties more than those in their twenties. At least the heterosexuals. Imagine you have a dating pool that starts with 40 women and 30 men, which is a 4:3 ratio.
“Once half of the women get married – as soon as 20 of the women marry 20 of the men – the dating pool among the remaining singles becomes 20 women and 10 men – a 2:1 ratio. That’s why we all know so many wonderful women in their thirties and forties who can’t find a decent man.’
He says older women seeking husbands should avoid men who never married into their late thirties or forties and who are highly paid — some of them even calling “unmarried.”
“I don’t assume that everyone wants to get married or should get married,” he said. “But if I were a straight woman who wanted to get married, I’d be wary of guys who never stayed married until their late 30s and 40s.
‘Especially the nicer ones with good jobs. These guys are having too much fun on the field. And the longer they stay single, the less interested they are in getting married or settling down with one woman. I would go so far as to call many of them unmarried.
“It’s one of the reasons I encourage people over 30 in Make Your Move to consider age dip. It may sound counterintuitive, but I actually think the younger guys are more committed than many of the older ones. ‘
Jon said that while men can develop ‘Golden Penis Syndrome’, it can be something they have outgrown later in life.
He also shared his advice with young college students who might be wary of dating men with an exaggerated ego.
‘One of the solutions to the gender gap that I write about in MAKE YOUR MOVE is to encourage women to be assertive and take the first step with the men of their choice. The fact is, men love women who love them. Also, a man is much less likely to take advantage of a woman who brings himself out and says, “Hey, I really like you, I’m really comfortable with you, so I was wondering if you’re on a date with me on Friday?”
“When it comes to dating, the more you spend on yourself, the more you get back. ‘