Lena Chen ’09 has a lot of sex. She gives a lot of blowjobs, and all evidence suggests that her technique is quite good. Chen, who is also a Crimson editor, enjoys snapping provocative photos of herself in tiny t-shirts sporting too-tussled JBF hair. Her favorite type of underwear is boyshorts. Her most recent fling, whom she claims she had moaning within seconds of unbuttoning his jeans, told her she had "a great ass." Also, she’s depressed.
I know all of this because, shamefully, I read her erotic blog Sex
And The Ivy with some regularity. Most of its contents I find vile, yet this blog pulls me in. Late nights between writing papers and studying for midterms, I find myself clicking on the link as I huddle sleepily over my carrel.
I’m not the only one who reads. Just six months old, Sex And The Ivy has garnered national attention outside Harvard Yard. Rumor has it she’s shopping a book.
On a personal level, I am disgusted by Chen’s blog. From that bizarre post about finding a condom inside herself days after some forgotten sex, to the more conventional posts about bringing some guy or another to orgasm with a few strokes of her knowing tongue, most of what she writes is, frankly, gross. I have no qualms saying that I find most of her lifestyle morally reprehensible.
But still, I can’t escape this feeling that there’s something admirable about the whole affair. Chen has—excuse the pun—screwed herself over vis-à-vis jobs, relationships, and life. She can forget political office—no one’s going to be gunning to vet this petite nymphomaniac. And that job at Goldman seems unlikely too—how many investment banks want to hire the girl whose claim to fame is that she daily exposes her sex life online? And keeping up this sort of celebrity will be rough, because age is going to catch up with her at some point: "My Favorite Position," when written by an arthritic, sex-crazed geriatric, doesn’t quite make for the most thrilling tale of sexual adventure.
No, my admiration for Lena Chen is not conventional. I don’t particularly enjoy the blog’s writing, nor do I aspire to her life and fame. I don’t sympathize with her problems. What I admire about Chen, assuming her blog is written in relative earnest, is that she’s willing to write about these matters so openly. It’s what sets her apart from most of Harvard.
Chen doesn’t buy into the same things her classmates do. She doesn’t aspire to the marriage, the terrier, or that house in the country. Every blog entry is an effective "screw you" to the values to which the rest of us cling. She writes of feelings most of us would never dream of expressing, but feelings that many of us share. In a sense, Chen is a bizarre sort of martyr. She not only admits to having problems; she acknowledges that what she’s getting out of Harvard isn’t enough to solve them.
Perhaps that, more than how to give to-die-for head or what ribbed condom to choose, is the lesson to be drawn from Sex And The Ivy: Even if few of us are inclined to such public honesty, we can at least admit our dissatisfaction privately. Harvard is famed as an intellectual and inspirational paradise, where like-minded young leaders of the future mingle. There is immense pressure to love and appreciate every minute of it. We would all do better to question the rosy path that leads us out of here to a life of conventional success, even if that doesn’t include sex blogging.
Lucy M. Caldwell ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, is a history and literature concentrator in Adams House.