As a 28-year-old woman, I hear one word too often among my friends the morning after they've gone out with a man. The word is "rapey."
Maybe this is supposed to be clear — a sexual encounter either is or isn't consensual. It either was or wasn't rape.
It's an experience where the lines of consent are so blurred they become hard to discern.
It's an experience that might start fun, then it's not fun, then it's scary — and it all happens so fast that a woman leaves feeling, like Grace, that she was forced into something she didn't want.
I always loved Aziz Ansari. When I first read Grace's allegations that he had pushed her too far, too fast into sex, and ignored her verbal and nonverbal attempts to slow down, I understood why some people were bothered. This didn't amount to rape or sexual abuse and harassment allegations against powerful men like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer — people who used their power over women to prey on them.
But I also understood why Grace's experience was so terrible for her. It was rapey.
It's so common now, it gets this dismissive, almost insouciant name. But it shouldn't be common.
It should be something we are discussing. Our sexual culture isn't working for women. We need to understand why.
This isn't just about men who engage in sexual harassment and rape. This is about something less clear-cut, that involves men who think they treat women well, but who in fact treat them in ways that are harmful.
My life and my friends' lives have been deeply affected by encounters like the one Grace had — moments that started consensually, but at some point became nonconsensual in ways that either weren't communicated by the woman or understood by the man. You leave experiences like these with horrible memories associated with something that is supposed to be good.
The aftermath often brings feelings of shame, depression and worthlessness, negativity about sex, anger at men.
You question everything about yourself: Was I inviting that behavior? Why did I let that happen? Why didn't I say anything? Why didn't I leave? Was I supposed to like that?
It may not be rape, but it's still wrong.
It's time we have this conversation in public. For too long, this has been something we've only talked about in private, usually after a woman has left a man's place in tears.
We need to change this part of our culture for future generations. No one should feel violated, and no decent guy wants to be in the place Ansari is — apologizing for what he thought was a normal, consensual sexual experience. What happened might be common. But it shouldn't be normal.
Men, we need you to understand what consent and enthusiasm look like. To read those signs, move slowly. Don't assume that just because she went home with you, she's OK with doing whatever you want. It may be tough for men to do this. Their own sexual culture, often shaped by porn, frat-boy attitudes, a misunderstanding of sexual liberation, has conditioned too many men to act in ways that are aggressive, selfish and entitled in the bedroom.
Some men and old-school feminists have accused my generation of being too helpless, too weak in expecting men to read our signals. Just push the guy away and leave if we're uncomfortable, they say.
That's not fair. Many times, we are trying to navigate conflicting pressures of liking a guy and wanting a deeper relationship with him, even though deep down, in that moment, we don't like what is happening to us.
But there is something women should do.
We need to take more ownership. We need to learn to listen to our inner voice and to speak out about what we do want. We need to be honest that the mix of men and alcohol can create situations that aren't easy to control. It's not an excuse; it's a reality. We've been trained to please others, to be non-confrontational. But we need to be confrontational when it comes to having the lives and experiences we want.
We can demand from men that they slow down. We can insist that we aren't obligated to put a man's pleasure above our own. We can, at any point, at any time, say stop.
A guy friend recently told me that lots of women sleep with a different guy every night. It came across as a sort of justification, the kind of thing that contributes to the sense of entitlement men have to women's bodies.
Men need to understand that all women are entitled to consent in every single moment of every single encounter.
We can't expect this to change overnight. But we can have these talks — as awkward as they may be — with our friends, sons and daughters.
The sad thing is that Ansari's behavior was normal for my generation. But it isn't something we have to accept as normal, or as unchangeable. We can do better. We have to, for women and for all of us.
Naomi Martin is a reporter for The Dallas Morning News.