COYOTE, or Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, is an American sex worker activist organization. COYOTE's goals include the decriminalization
Decriminalization or Decriminalisation is the abolition of criminal penalties in relation to certain acts, perhaps retroactively, though perhaps regulated permits or fines might still apply . The reverse process is criminalization.Decriminalization reflects changing social and moral views...

 (as opposed to the legalization
Legalization is the process of removing a legal prohibition against something which is currently not legal.Legalization is a process often applied to what are regarded, by those working towards legalization, as victimless crimes, of which one example is the consumption of illegal drugs .Those...

) of prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

, pimp
A pimp is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing a location where she may engage clients...

ing and pandering
Procuring (prostitution)
Procuring or pandering is the facilitation or provision of a prostitute in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer. Examples of procuring include:*trafficking a prostitute into a country for the purpose of soliciting sex...

, as well as the elimination of social stigma
Social stigma
Social stigma is the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.Almost all stigma is based on a person differing from social or cultural norms...

 concerning sex work as an occupation.

Though it is frequently described as a prostitutes' rights group, COYOTE's mission includes advocating for all varieties of sex workers of all genders, including stripper
A stripper is a professional erotic dancer who performs a contemporary form of striptease at strip club establishments, public exhibitions, and private engagements. Unlike in burlesque, the performer in the modern Americanized form of stripping minimizes the interaction of customer and dancer,...

s, phone sex
Phone sex
Phone sex is a type of virtual sex that refers to sexually explicit conversation between or other persons via telephone, especially when at least one of the participants masturbates or engages in sexual fantasy...

 operators and adult film performers. COYOTE provides counseling and legal referrals for sex workers, and assistance in leaving sex work for different careers.


COYOTE provides expert advice and sensitivity training
Sensitivity training
Sensitivity Training is a form of training that claims to make people more aware of their own prejudices, and more sensitive to others. According to its critics, it involves the use of psychological techniques with groups that its critics, e.g. G. Edward Griffin, claim are often identical to...

 for social service and law enforcement agencies
Law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...

 that deal with sex workers. COYOTE members have testified as expert witnesses during trials. The organization works to educate the general public about sex work, and promotes education about safe sex
Safe sex
Safe sex is sexual activity engaged in by people who have taken precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. It is also referred to as safer sex or protected sex, while unsafe or unprotected sex is sexual activity engaged in without precautions...

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 and sexually transmitted disease
Sexually transmitted disease
Sexually transmitted disease , also known as a sexually transmitted infection or venereal disease , is an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of human sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex...

 among sex workers, their clients and the general public.


COYOTE was founded in California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 in 1973 by Margo St. James
Margo St. James
Margo St. James , a self-described prostitute and sex-positive feminist, founded the organization COYOTE , which advocates decriminalization of prostitution.-History:...

, a feminist
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 and alleged former prostitute. She chose the name COYOTE because novelist Tom Robbins
Tom Robbins
Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins (born July 22, 1936 is an American author. His best-selling novels are serio-comic, often wildly poetic stories with a strong social and philosophical undercurrent, an irreverent bent, and scenes extrapolated from...

 called her a "coyote
Coyote (mythology)
Coyote is a mythological character common to many Native American cultures, based on the coyote animal. This character is usually male and is generally anthropomorphic although he may have some coyote-like physical features such as fur, pointed ears, yellow eyes, a tail and claws...

In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. It is suggested by Hansen that the term "Trickster" was probably first used in this...

" and came up with "Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

" to fit the chosen acronym. St. James believed that sex work should be considered labor equivalent to any other career, writing in 1977 that "to make a great distinction between being paid for an hour's sexual services, or an hour's typing, or an hour's acting on a stage is to make a distinction that is not there." (Chapkis)

In 1976, COYOTE, led by St. James, filed a lawsuit against Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

. In the case, COYOTE v. Roberts, the argument was based on how much power the state should have to control the sexual activity of its citizens. The lawsuit also alleged discrimination on how the law was being applied. Data was submitted that demonstrated selective prosecution: the Providence Police was arresting female sex workers far more often than the male customers. St. James testified in the case. Although the case eventually was dismissed when RI General Assembly changed the prostitution statute in 1980, COYOTE and St. James are given credit as one of the reasons prostitution in Rhode Island was decriminalized, although prostitution was outlawed again in 2009 (see Prostitution in Rhode Island
Prostitution in Rhode Island
Prostitution in Rhode Island was outlawed in 2009. On November 3, 2009, Governor Donald Carcieri signed into law a bill which makes the buying and selling of sexual services a crime....

). "Samantha" and Gloria Lockett were co-directors of COYOTE in the early 1990s. They had been critical of the group for focusing on "higher class" prostitutes (such as call girl
Call girl
A call girl or female escort is a sex worker who is not visible to the general public; nor does she usually work in an institution like a brothel, although she may be employed by an escort agency...

s and escorts) and white
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

 sex workers, while ignoring the concerns of streetwalkers and ethnic minorities. (Chapkis)

Norma Jean Almodovar is currently the director of COYOTE Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. There is also a COYOTE branch in San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...


See also

  • A Vindication of the Rights of Whores
    A Vindication of the Rights of Whores
    A Vindication of The Rights of Whores, is an anthology edited by Gail Pheterson with a preface by Margo St. James.The book consists of the voices of a diverse group of prostitutes, Sex worker's rights activists and feminist scholars from around the world, discussing their lives and their...

  • International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
    International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
    International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is observed annually on 17 December by Sex workers, their advocates, friends, families and allies....

  • Margo St. James
    Margo St. James
    Margo St. James , a self-described prostitute and sex-positive feminist, founded the organization COYOTE , which advocates decriminalization of prostitution.-History:...

  • Sex-positive feminism
    Sex-positive feminism
    Sex-positive feminism, also known as pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism is a movement that began in the early 1980s...

  • Sex worker rights
    Sex worker rights
    The term sex worker rights encompasses a variety of aims being pursued globally by individuals and organizations that specifically involve the human and labor rights of sex workers....

  • Sex worker
    Sex worker
    A sex worker is a person who works in the sex industry. The term is usually used in reference to those in the sex industry that actually provide such sexual services, as opposed to management and staff of such industries...

  • World Charter for Prostitutes Rights

Further reading

  • Chapkis, Wendy. Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor (1997, Routledge, New York). ISBN 0-415-91288-1
  • Jenness, Valerie. Making it Work: The Prostitutes' Rights Movement in Perspective (1993, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York)
  • Pheterson, Gail. A Vindication of the Rights of Whores (1989, Seal Press, Washington.) ISBN 0931188733

External links

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