On Christmas Eve 2007, during the winter break of her junior year, Chen discovered that an ex-boyfriend had posted intimate photos of her on the Internet. This practice now has a name: revenge porn. Back then, it was simply called scandalous.
Chen wasnít just an anonymous student. As a freshman at Harvard, she started a blog called Sex and the Ivy, where she wrote about her hookups, self-medication with alcohol, recovery from an eating disorder and crushing desire to be liked. All standard stuff for a college student.
Chen didnít think it was such a big deal. She didnít appreciate the fact that she was a teenage girl, talking about sex, while attending Harvard. Her blog set the Ivy League on fire, drawing the attention of national media. Her public journaling took on new gusto. She was majoring in sociology and steeped in gender theory; she thought she was living her politics by offering an uncensored female take on sex.
But that winter day, she became a minor celebrity with naked photos on the Internet. For some, this was righteous comeuppance for the campus harlot. For others it was just great gossip. Classmates and other titillated parties reposted the images around the Web, and comment threads exploded with colorful debate.