Lena Chen

is a reluctant sexpert, a feminist and queer advocate, and a walking case study on bad publicity. As a Harvard undergrad, she authored the blog Sex and the Ivy about her college sexcapades and misadventures. Her reputation has never quite recovered. Want to give her a book deal, send her hate mail, or misquote her in an article? Read her daily musings at The Ch!cktionary and check out her full bio.

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Hi folks! This week, I’m in San Francisco, where the Center for Sex and Culture is screening the new documentary by Therese Shechter. I first met Therese back in 2010 when she interviewed me for the film, and it’s been hugely gratifying to see this independent women-led project develop into a multi-platform educational tool for combating outdated gender stereotypes and sexual norms. Saturday’s screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director and film subjects. I’ve already seen it once on television and can’t wait to see this project on the big screen :) Here’s the synopsis:
It has launched both purity balls and porn franchises, defines a young woman’s morality–but has no medical definition. Enter the magical world of virginity, where a white wedding dress can restore a woman’s innocence and replacement hymens can be purchased online. Therese Shechter (who previously directed I WAS A TEENAGE FEMINIST) uses her own path out of virginity to explore why our sex-crazed society cherishes this so-called precious gift. Along the way, we meet sex educators, virginity auctioneers, abstinence advocates, and young men and women who bare their tales of doing it—or not doing it. “How To Lose Your Virginity” uncovers the myths and misogyny surrounding a rite of passage that many obsesses about but few truly understand.
Want more information? Check out the movie website and go beyond the film to the V-Card Diaries, a crowd-sourced collection of sexual debuts and deferrals.
"How to Lose Your Virginity" Sat, April 5, 8pm – 10pm Center for Sex and Culture1349 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
Tickets at the door: $8-25 sliding scale. Note: Because of the exhibits at the center, this space is 18+ only.

Hi folks! This week, I’m in San Francisco, where the Center for Sex and Culture is screening the new documentary by Therese Shechter. I first met Therese back in 2010 when she interviewed me for the film, and it’s been hugely gratifying to see this independent women-led project develop into a multi-platform educational tool for combating outdated gender stereotypes and sexual norms. Saturday’s screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director and film subjects. I’ve already seen it once on television and can’t wait to see this project on the big screen :) Here’s the synopsis:

It has launched both purity balls and porn franchises, defines a young woman’s morality–but has no medical definition. Enter the magical world of virginity, where a white wedding dress can restore a woman’s innocence and replacement hymens can be purchased online. Therese Shechter (who previously directed I WAS A TEENAGE FEMINIST) uses her own path out of virginity to explore why our sex-crazed society cherishes this so-called precious gift. Along the way, we meet sex educators, virginity auctioneers, abstinence advocates, and young men and women who bare their tales of doing it—or not doing it. “How To Lose Your Virginity” uncovers the myths and misogyny surrounding a rite of passage that many obsesses about but few truly understand.

Want more information? Check out the movie website and go beyond the film to the V-Card Diaries, a crowd-sourced collection of sexual debuts and deferrals.

"How to Lose Your Virginity"
Sat, April 5, 8pm – 10pm
Center for Sex and Culture
1349 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

Tickets at the door: $8-25 sliding scale. Note: Because of the exhibits at the center, this space is 18+ only.

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Feminism is no longer a dirty word - CNN.com

Check out Carol Costello’s story about how perceptions of feminism have shifted among Millenials.

I told her that the types of conversation that excite me the most today are the ones being started by people who don’t see themselves fitting into mainstream feminist narratives. It’s been really heartening to see how the Internet has emboldened and empowered people who have traditionally been marginalized and underserved. Perhaps feminism, like other social justice movements, is moving toward a more collective/democratic approach that emphasizes mass action rather than distinguishing a few exceptional leaders or “heroes”. I’m certain that the most significant action to come will be led by the radicals operating on the fringes, those who are creating communities one hashtag or Tumblr post at a time, those who are speaking to audiences that are not beholden to academic, political, or economic institutions (see Suey Park and #NotYourAsianSidekick, the student-led "I, Too, Am Harvard" multimedia campaign, etc.).

The Internet has helped many activists in my generation to mobilize support and start dialogues around the issues relevant to our communities. Your average teenage feminist has more tools and resources at their disposal and a more nuanced understanding of gender than ever before. I’m excited to see the democratizing effects of social media transform the way we pursue change.

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Feminism/s Presents: Sex in Journalism

As part of their Feminism/s series, the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania is hosting a panel tomorrow night on sex writing. I’ll be speaking at 6pm in the Arts Cafe - come join us! The talk will be followed by a Q&A and reception :)

FEMINISM/S PRESENTS: SEX IN JOURNALISM
Wednesday, February 5th at 6:00pm
Arts Cafe, Kelly Writers House
(
3805 Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania campus)

What do we talk about when we talk about sex? Join us for a discussion on the role of sex in journalism. Panelists include acclaimed journalist JULIA ALLISON; blogger LENA CHEN; KELSEY McKINNEY, online editor of Foxing Quarterly; and DAN REIMOLD, media scholar and author of “Sex and the University.” Moderated by ARIELLE PARDES. Come join the conversation.

Co-sponsored by The Fund for Feminist Projects and the Povich Journalism Fund.

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An update from the abyss: this past summer, I contributed to "IGLYO on…", the quarterly periodical published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organization. I wrote an article about the use of Internet communities and forums and their impact on identity formation among queer youth, particularly those marginalized by lack of access, resources, or role models in their community. It appeared in IGLYO’s June 2012 quarterly on social media.

I’ll be moving to Berlin at the end of February, and though I’ll be spending most of the following months settling in and finishing up book research, I hope to spend much of my free time meeting youth activists and others engaged in progressive work in Europe. If you plan on passing through Germany, shoot me a note! Am always interested in hearing the stories of strangers and playing biographer to vagabonds.

IGLYO on… is written by volunteers and enables young people across Europe to contribute their perspective to the LGBTQ movement. The publication is distributed to all member organisations and partners in hard copy, and is published four times a year. Peers are invited to contribute to a range of topics. Contact office@iglyo.com to order print publications to be sent by post.

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Catch me on the above HuffPost Live segment talking about the United Nations declaring contraception a human right. To which extent are nations like the United States fulfilling this so-called “right”? Has health care reform alleviated reproductive health costs or do people continue to make compromises on their sexual health?

This winter, I’m working on a series of articles related to the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the sexual life and health of Americans. Have you benefited as a result of the new provisions or are you still struggling to find affordable, reliable reproductive health services? What kind of trade-offs do you make as a consumer (generic vs. brand-name birth control)? If you’d like to share your experiences on paying for and accessing reproductive care (including but not limited to birth control, emergency contraception, STI testing, vaccination for HPV, and preventative screenings such as those for cancer), please get in touch with me at lena [at] lenachen [dot] com. I’d love to chat!

(Source: The Huffington Post, via lenachen)

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Virginity at Harvard | The Harvard Crimson
The Harvard Crimson’s magazine quoted me in this week’s cover story on student perceptions of virginity and the state of campus sexual politics. Sadly, I think that there’s still a tendency to think of sexuality in terms of an all-or-nothing/virgin-whore dichotomy, which is exactly how people end up being shamed no matter what their sexual practices actually consist of.
My stance has always been that these misconceptions and prejudices arise out of a collective unwillingness to talk about sex and our own desires (as well as our inner conflicts). In hyper-competitive environments, the self-consciousness and fear of failure that students feel toward academic achievement is totally reflected in how they negotiate their interpersonal relationships as well. It’s easier to judge others when we aren’t comfortable with our own sexuality. And in the end, that lack of transparency is what breeds insecurity in everyone, regardless of whether they’ve decided to stay abstinent or hook up,
Check out the whole piece for a sense of what sexual activity is actually like at Harvard today.

Virginity at Harvard | The Harvard Crimson

The Harvard Crimson’s magazine quoted me in this week’s cover story on student perceptions of virginity and the state of campus sexual politics. Sadly, I think that there’s still a tendency to think of sexuality in terms of an all-or-nothing/virgin-whore dichotomy, which is exactly how people end up being shamed no matter what their sexual practices actually consist of.

My stance has always been that these misconceptions and prejudices arise out of a collective unwillingness to talk about sex and our own desires (as well as our inner conflicts). In hyper-competitive environments, the self-consciousness and fear of failure that students feel toward academic achievement is totally reflected in how they negotiate their interpersonal relationships as well. It’s easier to judge others when we aren’t comfortable with our own sexuality. And in the end, that lack of transparency is what breeds insecurity in everyone, regardless of whether they’ve decided to stay abstinent or hook up,

Check out the whole piece for a sense of what sexual activity is actually like at Harvard today.

(via lenachen)