LENA CHEN is a writer, activist, and media commentator based in Berlin. 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 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 media outlets nationwide, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Boston Globe, Village Voice, Marie Claire, The Washington City Paper, Women’s Health, More Magazine, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Time Out New York, New York Press, Forbes, Boston Magazine, The Boston Phoenix, The Improper Bostonian, The Boston Herald, The Los Angeles Times, Harvard Magazine, Audrey Magazine, BUST, Alternet, Jezebel, Feministing, Global Comment, Gawker, Slate, Salon, and MTV. Internationally, her work has been covered by Der Spiegel (Germany),Glamour (UK), Cosmopolitan (Australia), Times Higher Education (UK), The Times of India, The Sofia Echo (Bulgaria), The Edmonton Journal (Canada), Publimetro Internacional (Chile), and CLEO (Australia).
Lena graduated from Harvard in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Studies of Women, Gender, & Sexuality. Her senior thesis chronicled the evolution of virginity norms and the rise of the modern American abstinence movement. She then organized the Rethinking Virginity Conference at Harvard, sparking discussion in the feminist press. She has spoken about feminism, relationships, and sexuality at conferences like SXSW and Sex::Tech and before student audiences at Yale, Brown, Stanford, and Rutgers, among other colleges. Lena hosted the first season of Sexy Times, a web series about health, sex, and relationships on gURL.com, Alloy Digital’s award-winning alternative web portal for adolescent girls, and previously produced Sex Really with Lena Chen for Bedsider.org, a project of The National Campaign To Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy.
Along with Abby Sun, Lena is the co-founder of Feminist Pride Day (formerly Feminist Coming Out Day) and the Feminist Portrait Project, later adopted by the Feminist Majority Foundation’s national campus programming. She has also beenon the Leadership Council for Bitch Magazine, recognized as a young feminist leader by More Magazine, and named a Progressive Women’s Voices fellow at the Women’s Media Center. Her Tumblr blog, The Chicktionary (2008-2013) was a chronicle of her daily life and likes, as well as all things feminist, queer, or otherwise radical.