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Why I Design Websites for Sex Workers

As a sex worker, I understand some of the challenges sex workers face when they want to launch a website.

By Milcah HaliliPublished 3 years ago 4 min read

When I was in coding school, my career coach took me aside and told me that the idea I had for my final project was great but that I probably shouldn't do it. The reason why he didn't recommend that I proceed with my idea for my final was that I had wanted to build a Patron-esque membership site for my then-wife, April Flores, a performer in the adult industry. He thought that having such a website on my portfolio would hinder me from getting jobs after I graduated.

"But what if I didn't publish anything x-rated? What if I just made a membership site with PG images?"

"I don't know," he said. His response extremely frustrated me, but I knew he had good intentions. He was trying to protect my ability to get hired during my career-change. At the end of the conversation, I thanked him for his advise and decided to go a different direction with my final project.

Despite the push back I faced for wanting to work on a project for an adult entertainer, I'm not someone who is afraid of stigma or what being affiliated with sex work could do to my career. After I graduated, my first freelance client was a sex worker who had concerns about publishing professional websites due to FOSTA/SESTA. They wanted to have ownership of their content and to have peace of mind that their work wouldn't be taken down by their web host. Their fears were justified because of FOSTA/SESTA, a law born on April 11, 2018, a few days after Backpage's co-founder was arrested and accused of facilitating prostitution through his online platform.

For those of you who don't know what FOSTA/SESTA is, it's an anti-sex-trafficking law that allows web hosts to be indicted for hosting content that promotes sex trafficking. It makes them responsible for enabling that content on their server. However, there isn't a distinction being made between sex workers and sex trafficking, effectively making it a loophole to shut down websites promoting consensual sex work. There aren't many safer spaces left for sex workers to promote their work and build community online, pushing those sex workers further into the margins, endangering their careers and lives.

My second freelance programming client, who eventually became my full-time employer for a few months, knew early on during my employment that I used to be an adult model. She even attended a poetry reading where I recited my poetry with other sex workers. This affirmed that I could be myself in the tech industry and that not all employers would see my past as undesirable.

My third freelance web development client, Mistress Blunt, runs Hacking//Hustling. Hacking Hustling is

a collective of sex workers, survivors, and accomplices working at the intersection of tech and social justice to interrupt state surveillance and violence facilitated by technology.

I had the pleasure of working with Blunt in the past during a BDSM shoot when I was still performing in femme drag. Blunt was having issues with her off-shore server, so I migrated her website to a sex-worker-friendly host and fixed the issue she was having regarding uploading new content.

That was when a light bulb went off in my head. Sex workers need help finding homes in the world wide web. It's already hard enough to find reliable talent, let alone a dev who isn't a creepy bro or straight up sexist and whorephobic. Being a sex worker, I know how important it is to feel safe while one navigates this grey market industry.

Had it not been for the queer women who kept me safe as a porn performer, I don't know that I would have survived in the adult industry. Pro dommes kept me sane and taught me how to stand up for myself. They helped me build up my self-esteem as a pro switch and as a human. For these reasons, I will always be loyal to the dommes, escorts, cam models, strippers, and movie whores I am proud to call my community. It's an honor to keep serving the adult industry through coding a safer place for them on the Web.

Want to read about my experiences as a sex worker?

Read Felony, my first scene with Kink dot com.

Read Lorelei Lee, a Kink dot com scene with one of my dear friends.

Want to learn how to code?

If you are (or have been) a sex worker, then follow me on Twitter or Instagram. I will offer free introduction-to-coding workshops exclusively for sex workers in the near future.

Read How to Code with an Apple Device for Under $500.

Read An Intro to Ruby, a Newbie-Friendly Programming Language.

Read Introduction to React and Single Page Apps.

Want to support my work?

There are severals ways you can support me:

Read more of my work here.

Send me a tip via Cash App at $Milcah.

Become a member of my Patreon.

Consider leaving a tip down below.

Thanks for reading. 💙🙏🏽


About the Creator

Milcah Halili

Content Creator

Director of Engineering at CHANI

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