Does having sex with another woman avoid the problems of having sex with a man? Arguably, many of the barriers to sexual assertiveness do not exist in lesbian relationships, and no biological explanations of height­ened sex drive justify predatory behavior. Thus, in theory, two women should be able to define a positive, egalitarian sexuality not based on dominance-submission or coercion. And yet, developmentally, the same cultural images available to girls who become heterosexual are available to girls who become lesbian. Examination of many sexually explicit lesbian materials reveals that they are often based on themes of dominance and submission similar to sexually explicit heterosexual materials. In lesbian relationships, women can play the role of sexual predator just as fictional women do in male-oriented pornography. In lesbian relationships, this can serve to exploit women who play the submissive role.

Recent data suggest that for women who report having had sex with both women and men in the past five years, a significantly greater per­centage report histories of childhood sexual abuse than for women who had sex with only men (Quina, Burkholder, Sklar, & Morokoff, 1996). As has been discussed, a history of sexual abuse affects women’s sexual behav­ior. It has been suggested here that women with early exposure to pornog­raphy or other forms of abuse may be more susceptible to internalizing sexual roles related to dominance and submission. Thus the fact that all women are exposed to the same negative cultural images and the evidence that bisexual women are more likely than exclusively heterosexual women to be survivors of abuse experiences suggests that at least some lesbian and

bisexual women will have difficulty in defining an autonomous sexuality just as exclusively heterosexual women do.