Lena Chen

is a reluctant sexpert, a feminist and queer activist, and a walking case study on bad publicity. Once called the "self-appointed poster girl for ... brainy girls gone wild", she authored the blog Sex and the Ivy about her misadventures and sexcapades as a Harvard undergrad. Her reputation has never quite recovered.


Missed our conversation about online love, digital intimacy and the future of dating? You can check out the best bits from the XOXOSMS Valentine’s premiere on Vimeo (or on Ustream for the full video from our livestream).

P.S. For press coverage of the event, check out this article on NYU Local.


High fashion, minus the labels | CNN.com

Here’s a quick read for your lazy long weekend! A CNN piece I was quoted in:

Twenty-year-old, 6-foot-1 Andrej Pejic is a model for success: a women’s size 2 or 4; angular cheekbones; full, pouty lips; bleached-blond hair; and impossibly long legs. Yet the walk down the runway — often squeezed into a ladies’ size 10 shoe — hasn’t always been a smooth and glamour-ridden one.

Bosnian-born Pejic grew up as the younger son to a single mother of two. He spent most of his childhood in a Serbian refugee camp before moving to Melbourne, Australia. While others are quick to attach labels to Pejic — he’s been referred to in the media everywhere from “James Blond” to “gender bender” to “femiman” — androgynous sensation Pejic isn’t so quick to constrict himself to a particular description… [continued]

I don’t think there should be an “acceptable” way to dress or to present yourself according to your gender, so I think it’s pretty awesome that Andrej Pejic has taken the fashion world by storm. As I mention in the linked article, however, visibility can only do so much to counter the existing gender binary, and let’s not forget that profit interests are the reason why Pejic’s strutting down the runway.

In fact, rather than subverting norms, might this trend in gender ambiguity reinforce them? Pejic’s look is first and foremost a source of profit for the agency and designers who employ him. There’s a big difference between appearing androgynous and being trans or gender-queer, but a fashion spread is not going to articulate all those nuances, nor does it even touch upon the kinds of prejudice or outright violence that many trans folks encounter because of the way they dress. Your average 20-year-old transgender person is not a highly sought after model, yet they’re the ones who aren’t insulated from harassment, discrimination, and physical violence. That isn’t to say that Pejic doesn’t encounter ignorance as well, but he enjoys some economic insulation, which shouldn’t be underestimated. Employment is a privilege that many trans people can’t count on (since gender identity and expression aren’t constitutionally protected rights). All in all, I have my doubts about whether this trend actually challenge mainstream ideas about beauty and gender or if it merely fetishizes androgyny.

(Source: lenachen)


“He Came To Stay” | Explosion Proof Fall 2011

Forgot to blog this when it came out last fall, but here’s a personal essay I wrote about my relationship with Patrick (for Explosion Proof’s “State of the Union” issue). Simone de Beauvoir inspired the title. I was reading Tête-à-Tête at the time.

(To read the article, click to the individual page and right-click “view image”).

(Source: lenachen)


Join me and XOXOSMS for Virtual V-Day!

In an LDR? Totally bummed you can’t snuggle up to your sweet this Valentine’s Day? We’ve got something just for you! On Februrary 14th at 6pm EST, join us for the premiere of xoxosms followed by a panel about love, intimacy, sex, and the Internet (all of our favorite things!). 

This is a date night for the 21st Century: fire up Skype (or gchat or oovoo!), connect with your beloved, and tune into the film together. Then stick around to have a conversation about how technology is changing the way we live and love. Panelists include director Nancy Schwartzman, Lena Chen of “Sex and The Ivy”, Twanna Hines aka “Funky Brown Chick”, writer for Ebony and Glamour, Melissa Gira Grant of The Guardian and The New York Observer, Samhita Mukhopodyay, Editor of Feministing.com, and Melanie Wallner from student focused online dating platform DateMySchool.com.

Save the date!

(I’ll be in NYC this Friday through Valentine’s Day. Join me online for the livestream!)

(Source: xoxosms, via lenachen)


10 Myths About Sex and Virginity - Debunked

So glad to see that people are still talking about this! Over at lipstick-feminists, a reader submitted a piece by the fab Lori Adelman about some takeaway points from the Rethinking Virginity Conference I organized back in 2010. Lori wrote:

 The conference was organized by Lena Chen and the Harvard Queer Students’ Association, and brought together an incredibly diverse and impressive group of feminists, who dropped some serious knowledge on all things virgin-themed. One of the most interesting parts of the panel was learning how much misinformation exists around issues of virginity, sex, and our bodies.  I’ve compiled ten myths uncovered- and debunked- at yesterday’s conference.

Virginity is a topic I’ve written a ton about - and to be honest, after spending a year researching it for my thesis, I’ve had to take a bit of a break from the subject. But I think Lori’s piece was such a great summation of the discussion that I had to repost! If you’re interested in learning about how virginity relates to slut-shaming, the institution of marriage, queer sexuality, and ideas about the hymen and female anatomy, … seriously, read it.

(Source: lipstick-feminists, via lenachen)


where is your line? | Lena Chen: Badass Activist Friday!

The Line Campaign chatted with me for their feminist interview series. I talked about my ambivalence toward the “sexpert” label, dating while feminist, and my upcoming web series on gURL.com. Check it out!

where is your line? | Lena Chen: Badass Activist Friday!

The Line Campaign chatted with me for their feminist interview series. I talked about my ambivalence toward the “sexpert” label, dating while feminist, and my upcoming web series on gURL.com. Check it out!

(via lenachen)