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'Sex and the Ivy' girl gets her mind right on promiscuity
Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:40 AM

 


Slate magazine has a piece about Lena Chen, a student at Harvard who apparently is best known as a popular sex blogger and was called by the The New York Times Harvard's "best representative of the hook-up culture." She even called herself a "bleeding heart nympho."

But Ms. Chen has apparently seen the light, and is coming full circle. Earlier this week she organized a conference at Harvard called "Rethinking Virginity," which explored topics such as "what the future of abstinence should look like." She is now writing articles for publications such as American Prospect on the chastity movement.

Sophia Loren just yesterday published a reflective piece of her own, lamenting the hook-up culture that was spawned by the advent of the pill which allowed young women to be sexually adventurous with little fear of pregnancy. So when you have a sex siren at one end of the age spectrum and a self-described formerly sex-crazed college student at the other both making the case for abstinence before marriage and fidelity afterward, we may be on to something.

In fact, they are both saying something they would have learned long ago by simply listening to the age-old advice of the New Testament: "flee sexual immorality." The Scriptures - as well as parents - are given to us so that we do not have to learn every lesson in life the hard way. Here are two women telling us in effect that the Scriptures have been right all along and that the culture that  dismissed the Word of God as outmoded and archaic was disastrously wrong-headed.

Things are not true because they are in the Bible. They are in the Bible because they are true. And we can take Sophia Loren and Lena Chen's word for it.

Excerpts from the Salon piece (emphasis mine):

It's as if young women are going through the cycle of rebellion and regret much faster than other generations—because it's all being publicly chronicled as it unfolds. Lena Chen, all of 22 years old, is already sounding like a buttoned-up version of her earlier self. Where she used to write for Hustler and contribute to New York's sex diaries, she's now writing serious articles for the American Prospect about the chastity movement and trying to stamp out "slut shaming."...

...But young people are also spooked by the public shaming that the oversharers have encountered, and they don't want to go down that road. People in this cohort tend to meet instances of oversharing with mockery and scorn, rather than sympathy or commiseration. Chen's fellow students had no patience for her plight: "With a name like Sex and the Ivy, what did you expect?" her so-called friends at Harvard said...

...Chen started "Sex and the Ivy" in 2006, at the beginning of her sophomore year. She read Sylvia Plath, drank too much, and had some ill-advised romances—pretty typical collegiate melodrama. Her blog posts read like a saner version of fellow Crimson-scribe (and DoubleX contributor) Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation. The initial response to Chen was positive, and she felt exhilarated by the experience—freshman girls looked up to her, lots of people were reading her posts, and she was getting some freelance work out of it. At the time, she thought, "I was well-aware that my subject matter was slightly edgy and my reputation slightly soiled, but hardly unsalvageable, nothing a book deal couldn't fix."...

...Soon there was an awful backlash, which included a deranged ex-boyfriend leaking nude photos of Chen on the Internet and many deeply cruel jabs from her pals at Harvard in the comments section of her blog and on the Ivy League blog IvyGate. "I always thought that people here are more progressive, but I think sexuality is an exception," Chen told me. "They were saying I was a slut, I was a wh***, but only behind my back. … [Ambitious Harvard types] would not ever call me a wh*** out loud because they know they wouldn't become President."...

...Chen doesn't apologize for her old blog, but she acknowledges that the early posts "reflected a painful desire to be liked" and that she's lost a lot because of it...

Now, Chen seems dedicated to making sure no one else goes through what she had to endure. In theory, the Rethinking Virginity conference was supposed to create a utopian space in which no one is judged for any kind of sexual behavior—whether it be Jesse James' mistress Michelle "Bombshell" McGee or someone who chooses to be abstinent. But the conference-goers didn't exhibit much tolerance for unusual or hedonistic behavior. I asked the panel called "The Feminist Response to Slut-Shaming & Sexual Scare Tactics" what they thought of adults having nonmonogamous unprotected sex, and the response was uniformly, well, shaming. "They're doing something damaging, and careless, and it's not a choice I personally approve of," said one panelist...

...The final panel of the day, moderated by Chen, was called "Toward a Sex Positive Vision of Abstinence." The panelists all concurred that abstinence should be taught to high schoolers as part of an arsenal of ways to prevent pregnancy and STDs. The only real debate seemed to be about whether the government should continue to push the abstinence message past high school and make sure that adults knew it was an option as well, by, for example, mandating that abstinence be discussed as part of comprehensive sex education programs in colleges across the country...

...While the one middle-aged sex educator on the panel seemed horrified by that idea ("I wouldn't presume to teach abstinence to adults," she said), Chen was intrigued. "What if an 18-year-old virgin needs to learn how to talk to his partner about how he's never had sex before?" Chen inquired. It was striking to hear young adults call for a government-mandated safe area to save a hypothetical virgin from the risks—and the joys—of youthful trial and error. That abstinence was even being considered as a solution to the young adult sexual minefield is a surprisingly conservative shift.

 

 

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