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It’s one of those stories that, on the surface, rings a little bizarre.

Okay it is definitely bizarre…

‎Yusaf Mack, a 35-year-old middleweight boxer from Philadelphia, was caught in a porn scandal involving two other men. The self-professed “whoremonger” who also has 10 children and is set to be married to a woman, tells Jenice Armstrong with the Philadelphia Daily News that he “loves females.” He also says that there is a perfectly valid reason for all of this: he was drugged.

As reported by Armstrong:

“Mack’s saga began earlier this year. Someone reached out to him on Facebook and asked if he would be willing to be in a porn flick. Since he was short on cash, Mack decided to do it.

Sometime in June – he can’t recall exactly when – Mack boarded a train to New York City and made his way to an address in the Bronx. Once inside the apartment where the filming was to take place, he noticed a number of naked women walking around.

“I think, ‘It’s about to go down.’ I needed a drink or something,” Mack told me over the phone. “They gave me a pill and a shot of vodka. I took the pill down with the vodka.”

The next thing he can recall is being on a train at 30th Street Station and someone telling him to wake up.

“I don’t remember getting on the train,” he told me.

But Mack did later notice that he had $4,500 tucked inside his pocket.”

Mack tells Armstrong that he only learned what really happened to him after a friend pulled him aside and confessed that he, as well as much of West Philly, had seen snippets of the porn, which is currently floating around social media.

The boxer also said that he wants “to go after whoever it was that got him into this predicament.” But he can’t remember many pertinent details, like who hired him, who drugged him or even the password to his Facebook account (Mack also told Armstrong that the “Facebook page that he met his porn contact through is inaccessible because he forgot his password”).

He also adds:

“I’m just hurt right now…I can’t really sleep at night, but I’m getting by. . . . Everybody thinks I’m going to hurt myself. I’ve got to stay strong for my children.”

Crazy story, right? Or is it…

I will admit that Mack’s story doesn’t pass the smell test – more on that later. However it does present a good opportunity to talk about the preconceived notions many of us have about a man’s ability to be a victim of sexual assault.

And yes, if what Mack is alleging is true, this was an assault.

Yet, sexual assault that happens to men is often mocked. Or it is looked at as punishment for some other misgiving. Like whenever we joke about prison rape. Very rarely is it treated as a legitimate issue.

This was the case when earlier this year The Huffington Post ran a story about sexual assault against men on college campuses and how those stories are often ignored by not only the administrations at these institutions, but the media itself.

Yet, as reported in the article, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has revealed that “of 5,000 college students at over 130 colleges, one in 25 men answered “yes” to the question ‘In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?”

Likewise, other statistics suggest that while 10 percent of reported sexual assaults in the United States, involve men, most sexual assaults go unreported. The reason, according to the website for the Florida Council Against Sexual Assault:

Men and boys are often reluctant to report the crime of sexual assault, or to seek services, because they feel humiliated, shamed or confused by the crime or because they feel that seeking help will make them feel vulnerable or weak. Anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault needs compassion, sensitivity and caring, and male victims may also have special needs to consider.”

All of this to say that if Mack had been sexually assaulted, this is no laughing matter.

If he had been a victim, it is possible that the reason he had not come forward sooner was out of shame and embarrassment. I mean could you imagine telling that story to your spouse, extended family and friends or even the police? And more importantly, could you imagine the self-blame? After all the stigma is that only gay men can be sexually assaulted.

But rape is about power and control and predators tend to pick people, regardless of sexual orientation, who are vulnerable. And there is nothing more vulnerable than a man hard up for cash.

That’s if his version of events are true.

Since this story has hit the papers (and the Internet), Twitter has produced more evidence that this is not Mack’s first gay porn production. Still, this is also problematic as well. Currently, his twitter mentions are filled with all sorts of homophobic slurs and threats against his life.

If he is lying, shame on him for exploiting rape and for making it a lot harder for men who have been victimized. But even if he is lying, we have to stop shaming people who have yet to come to terms with their own sexual orientations. Not only does it not help them embrace their true selves, it also sends a message to other men who might be watching, and who have been victimized, to feel less secure in speaking out about what’s happened to them.

 

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