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Some subscribe to the so called “catharsis” theory – that pornography can act as a safety valve of sorts, allowing its consumers to satisfy aggressive impulses in a non violent way.The catharsis theory is as unprovable as the theory that pornography induces aggression, and some of the attempts to find substantive proof in the experience of countries that have liberalized obscenity laws have been discredited.It can be, however, difficult to find objective proof of the harmful effects of pornography.Two potential sources of such proof are available: Statistical evidence is unable to establish a causal link between pornography and violence.As for statistical evidence, rates of sexual assault have increased, but not significantly more than those of other forms of crime.In any event, establishing a statistical link of this sort is extremely problematic.The presence of such material may be merely symptomatic of anti social behaviour, rather than its cause.
Notwithstanding the uncertainties of definition, many believe that material that depicts violence toward – or demeans – women is demonstrably harmful and should be controlled.
The Committee declined to give an explicit definition of what it considered “pornography,” prin¬cipally because there is no accepted definition in the community at large.
It acknowledged the validity of the idea that pornography should be distinguished from erotica, and agreed that, although it is violent pornography that is of most concern, to some extent there is a continuum from apparently mild sexually offensive material to violent material.
Even those conducting the experiments concede that their results are not readily transferable from the laboratory to the real world, where a wealth of other stimuli and inhibitions also affect social behaviour.
Not all studies of the effects of pornography inquire into its negative consequences.