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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.


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.


COYOTE was founded in California in 1973 by Margo St. James, a feminist and former prostitute. 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."[1]

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,[2] 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.[1]

As of 2012, Norma Jean Almodovar serves as the executive director of the Los Angeles branch of COYOTE.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chapkis, Wendy. Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor (1997, Routledge, New York). ISBN 0-415-91288-1.
  2. ^ Arditi, Lynn (2009-05-31). "'Behind Closed Doors' How RI Decriminalized Prostitution". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  3. ^ "Norma Jean Almodovar Interview". 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.

External links[edit]