Criminal offenses | Sociology homework help

Do you feel if fetishes are a crime? Are there any potential criminal offenses that can be committed through fulfilling ones fetish; if so what are they?

500 words (NOT including References)

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            What really draws your attention when you go shopping either in person or online?  Not meaning to come across as sexist, but if you are a female, you are likely drawn to clothes or shoes and if you are male, you are more likely drawn to cars or sports.  Perhaps you have a collection of animals, music, or a certain type of movie.  Being drawn toward and desiring to have something is normal behavior, however, if the desire is extreme in terms of strongly wanting something, you may be said to have a fetish.       

            Having a fetish in terms of strongly desiring something falls within the realm of normalcy, however, strongly desiring something because it uncharacteristically excites you sexually, is not normal and would possibly be termed a mental illness.

Fetishism as a Mental Illness

Fetishism as a mental illness is defined as “a form of sexual deviation in which the person becomes sexually stimulated by parts of the body or objects which are not usually regarded as erogenic” (Fetishism, 2010).  The diagnostic characteristics of fetishism are as follows:

Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent and intense sexual arousal from either the use of nonliving objects or a highly specific focus on nongenital body part(s), as manifested by fantasies, urges, or behaviors.

The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The fetish objects are not limited to articles of clothing used in cross-dressing (as in transvestic disorder) or devices specifically designed for the purpose of tactile genital stimulation (e.g., vibrator).  (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013, “Fetishistic Disorder”)

A common fetish that is occasionally used in a comedic sense on television is having a foot or shoe fetish, which can be an actual fetishistic disorder.  Also, it should be noted that fetishism can affect adolescents as well as adults (Coskun & Ozturk, 2013).

Transvestic Disorder

Transvestic disorder is limited to men as no females have been diagnosed as having this type of mental illness (Transvestic Fetishism, 2009).  This involves cross-dressing in relation to repeated sexual desires and fantasies and should not be confused with cross-dressing for the purpose of impersonating women.  However, it is possible for a female impersonator to have this disorder (Transvestic Fetishism, 2009).   Common transvestic fetishes involve a man becoming sexual aroused by women’s underwear, particularly their panties (Pedneault et al., 2012).

Specifically, transvestic fetishism is diagnosed based upon the following criteria:

Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent and intense sexual arousal from cross-dressing, as manifested by fantasies, urges, or behaviors.

The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning  (APA, 2013, “Transvestic Disorder”).

Similar to fetishism, transvestic disorder has been found to affect adolescent boys as well as adult males (Zucker et al., 2012).

Fetishism and Transvestic Disorder in Relation to Criminal Behavior

            First of all, it should be noted that having a fetishistic disorder is not criminal, however, it frequently can lead to criminal behavior if left untreated.  A primary criminal behavior related to fetishism or transvestic disorder is theft and burglary.  Due to the insatiable desire for the object and consequent fulfillment of a sexual fantasy, individuals suffering from the fetish will turn to theft and burglary in order to obtain the item (Pedneault et al., 2012).  However, this type of sexually motivated burglary is likely the most benign in terms of the owners as they tend to occur when the residence is unoccupied (Pedneault et al., 2015).

            While the reason for a fetish or transvestic burglary is based on irrational desires, it does involve an element of rational thinking as the action tends to be ritualistic and void of a high level of risk for the burglar (Pedneault et al., 2015).  Unfortunately, fetish and transvestic burglaries have been documented to not remain benign, but escalate from noncontact to sexual assault, violent encounters, and even murder (Brankley et al., 2014).  Additionally, the seriousness of the burglary not only increases, but so does the frequency, thereby resulting in more victims of this mental illness motivated crime (Brankley et al., 2014).


            While in comparison to previously discussed mental illnesses, fetishism and transvestic disorder appear to be the most innocent in terms of initially being victimless in terms of others.  However, neither illness tends to remain harmless to others and can become violent rather rapidly.  Additionally, it should be noted that fetishism and transvestic disorder share comorbidity with other mental disorders, such as substance abuse (Mehdizadeh-Zareanari et al., 2013), making them more complicated and aggressive.

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