LENA CHEN is a writer and activist. She has contributed personal essays and reported on sex and gender issues for The American Prospect, The Boston Globe Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, Glamour, and Salon. She is best known for writing the now-defunct Sex and the Ivy as an undergraduate at Harvard.
Sex and the Ivy (2006-8) featured first-person accounts of sexual experiences, depression, and alienation while offering a glimpse into the state of undergraduate sex lives and mental health at Harvard College. Quickly becoming a controversial figure, Lena was criticized by some as “morally reprehensible” and praised by others for encouraging frank sexual dialogue. Sex and the Ivy has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek,The Boston Globe, Village Voice, Marie Claire, The Washington City Paper, Women’s Health, More, Der Spiegel, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Times Higher Education, Forbes, The Daily Beast, Time Out New York, New York Press, Forbes, Boston Magazine, The Boston Phoenix, The Improper Bostonian, The Boston Herald, The Los Angeles Times,The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, The Chicago Sun-Times, Harvard Magazine, Audrey, BUST, Alternet, Jezebel, Feministing, Global Comment, Gawker, Slate, Salon, and MTV.
Lena graduated from Harvard in 2010 with a degree in sociology and a minor in women, gender, & sexuality. Her senior thesis chronicled the historical notion of virginity and the rise of the contemporary American abstinence movement. She organized the Rethinking Virginity conference, sparking on-campus discussion and off-campus press. She spoke about feminism, relationships, and sexuality at conferences like SXSW and Sex::Tech and before student audiences at Yale, Brown, Stanford, and more recently, the Oxford Union. Lena hosted web series on health, sex, and relationships for gURL.com, Alloy Digital’s award-winning alternative web portal for adolescent girls, and Bedsider.org, a project of The National Campaign To Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy.
In 2010, she and Abby Sun co-founded Feminist Pride Day (formerly Feminist Coming Out Day) as a collaboration between the queer and feminist communities at Harvard. The campaign went spread to universities across the country and has become a part of Feminist Majority Foundation’s national campus programming. Lena was on the Leadership Council for Bitch Magazine and named a Progressive Women’s Voices fellow at the Women’s Media Center. Her Tumblr blog, The Chicktionary (2008-2012) was a chronicle of her daily life and likes, as well as all things feminist, queer, or otherwise radical.
She moved to Berlin in 2013 to write a novel.