COYOTE

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For other uses, see Coyote (disambiguation).

COYOTE is an American prostitutes' rights organization. Its name is a backronym for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics,, a reflection of the fact that sex work tends to be stigmatized primarily because of society-imposed standards of ethics. COYOTE's goals include the decriminalization (as opposed to the legalization) of prostitution, pimping and pandering, as well as the elimination of social stigma concerning sex work as an occupation.

COYOTE provides counseling and legal referrals for prostitutes, and assistance in leaving prostitution for different careers.

Services[edit]

COYOTE provides expert advice and sensitivity training for social service and law enforcement agencies 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, AIDS and sexually transmitted disease among sex workers, their clients and the general public.

History[edit]

COYOTE was founded in California in 1973 by Margo St. James, a feminist and former prostitute, along with Jennifer James, a Seattle based professor of anthropology. Margo St. James had previously been wrongly convicted of prostitution because her behavior fit the definition of a prostitute, but she fought the system and won.[1] She chose the name COYOTE because novelist Tom Robbins called her a "coyote trickster"[citation needed] and came up with "Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics" to fit the chosen backronym. 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."[2]

Purpose[edit]

The group’s purpose was to “to provide a loose union of women—both prostitutes and feminists—to fight for legal change.” [3] COYOTE provided safe spaces for sex workers to meet to talk about their experiences and find support. They had “rap sessions” which used feminist consciousness raising methods, and let the women know that they were not alone in their experiences. They gathered stories and facts about the injustices sex workers faced and launched a public education drive to highlight the racist and sexist biases of prostitution arrests. Meetings and events were advertised through underground newspapers. COYOTE organized educational programs and cultural events to raise money for other projects and held public demonstrations to protest entrapment. They also organized “whore conventions” in San Francisco (1974), Washington, DC (1976), and in Brussels and Amsterdam (1985 and 1986).[4]

Programs and Services[edit]

COYOTE offered a variety of services to sex workers. They offered a hotline for prostitutes called SLIP (Survival Line for Independent Prostitutes), immediate legal assistance for prostitutes who had been arrested, suitable clothing for court appearances, and classes on survival skills for prostitutes in jail.[5] COYOTE won policy changes in the 1970’s that gradually diminished prostitution laws. They abolished mandatory penicillin therapy and multiday jail quarantines and pressured public defenders to provide better representation for people accused of soliciting and prostitution, misdemeanor offences. They instigated and sponsored at least 26 lawsuits on behalf of prostitutes and lifted a mandatory three-day venereal disease quarantine imposed by the San Francisco Police Department on prostitutes. They won by claiming that the incidence of VD disease is at least as high among people 20 to 40 years old as among whores and “only women are arrested and forced to have regular checks for VD.”[6] C.O.Y.O.T.E. got a judge to dismiss prostitution charges against 37 women whose male customers were not arrested and they organized protests against police harassment, which they believed was one of the most critical issues affecting prostitutes. From their Hooker’s Ball, they raised a bail fund to free women from exploitative pimps and created special welfare programs and assistance services.[7]

COYOTE v. Roberts[edit]

In 1976, COYOTE, led by St. James, filed a lawsuit against Rhode Island. 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 were arresting female sex workers far more often than the male customers. St. James testified in the case. Although the case eventually was dismissed when Rhode Island 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,[8] although prostitution was outlawed again in 2009 (see Prostitution in Rhode Island). "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 girls and escorts) and white sex workers, while ignoring the concerns of streetwalkers and ethnic minorities.[2]

As of 2012, Norma Jean Almodovar serves as the executive director of the Los Angeles branch of COYOTE.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chateauvert, Melinda (2013). Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6139-8. 
  2. ^ a b Chapkis, Wendy. Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor (1997, Routledge, New York). ISBN 0-415-91288-1.
  3. ^ Chateauvert, Melinda (2013). Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6139-8. 
  4. ^ Chateauvert, Melinda (2013). Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6139-8. 
  5. ^ Chateauvert, Melinda (2013). Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6139-8. 
  6. ^ Jenness, Valerie (August 1990). "From Sex as Sin to Sex as Work: COYOTE and the Reorganization of Prostitution as a Social Problem on JSTOR" (PDF). www.jstor.org. Retrieved 2016-12-06. 
  7. ^ Chateauvert, Melinda (2013). Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6139-8. 
  8. ^ Arditi, Lynn (2009-05-31). "'Behind Closed Doors' How RI Decriminalized Prostitution". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  9. ^ "Norma Jean Almodovar Interview". Danndulin.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Jenness, Valerie (August 1990). "From Sex as Sin to Sex as Work: COYOTE and the Reorganization of Prostitution as a Social problem". Social Problems. 37 (3): 403–420. doi:10.2307/800751. JSTOR 800751. 
  • 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 0-931188-73-3.
  • Chateauvert, Melinda (2013). Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6139-8. 

External links[edit]