Vicki Rox: Exploring Gender Dynamics and Human Connection
Vicki Rox is on a mission to explore and support new masculinities by having illuminating conversations with men. For the past year, she’s curated a global underground men's dinner salon series to share collective wisdom. She works with men one on one, leads workshops, and speaks on "Hacking Human Connection" & “New Masculinities: Tension + Release”. Her latest project, "Hello Human: Questions about Manhood” chronicles conversations with strangers from Uber drivers to CEOs to new airport friends.
Make Muse: If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
Vicki: I’m a wildly curious, philosophizing believer in human connection and its power to heal and elevate humanity.
Make Muse: Tell us a little bit about your career path- you’ve been a writer, now a researcher, and a speaker. How did you land where you are today?
Vicki: The only thing I’ve ever formally been is an ad exec. Everything else is an identity assigned to express whats rumbling within. I know in some place beyond reason, that I have several books waiting to be written, stages I’ll speak on and tv shows/podcasts I’ll create when I’m ready. For right now, for today, I’m really enjoying adventuring into the unknown. It's surreal to jump off the hamster wheel, to abandon everything you previously revered as valuable like climbing the corporate ladder and making a 6 figure salary in favor of this thrill: what I call my own true liberation.
How did I get here? I jumped off, the parachute came later. I left everything I knew- a great career, incredible friends and family, a cute apartment- because I believed there was something valuable to learn on the other side of this. I had spent the past seven years building a career I was proud of at the expense of developing my own self. So leaving for me, was about coming home to myself. I set off on a series of “ positive disruptive experiences” in order to strip away ego, vanity, money, as much as possible. For 28 months I mostly wore no makeup, no push-up bras, no high heels, stopped leading with sexuality when I met men, and led with friendship instead - and it changed everything. I came home to myself.
As for my career, I saved up for 7 years so that I could live on a meager backpacking budget and not worry about making money. That kind of mental freedom allowed me to develop hobbies- I got pretty curious about blockchain and masculinity, launching little projects for both. I curated an underground men’s dinner salon in cities all over the world, gathering brilliant men to talk about what it means to be a man today. I was already speaking about ‘Hacking Human Connection’ on stages at conferences thanks to the MOTH, so last year I spoke at Tech Open Air about ‘New Masculinities: Tension + Release” for the first time. There was a two-hour wait afterward - men and women lined up to talk and wanted to bring me to their city for a dinner salon. I realized where there is curiosity, there is everything. An educated opinion is vital so I’ve engrossed myself in the study of Masculinity from the top minds to really understand it beyond my own findings. Men started coming to me asking to work with them one on one on how to cultivate human connection in their own lives and that’s been some of the most rewarding work of my life so far.
So 28 months later, I feel more like myself than I ever have. I’m equally thrilled and in awe that I get to create, facilitate, and study human connection and emerging masculinity in a way that mutually benefits men and women.
Make Muse: Can you go further into your role working specifically with men?
Vicki: Yes, I work with men in a few different ways: curating an international underground men’s dinner salon series, corporate leadership connection training, and one-on-one intensive boot camps that produce higher levels of connection to themselves and their relationships than ever before. My vision is to help men rediscover the King inside of themselves, and empower them to operate from their highest integrity.
Make Muse: Why does helping men understand themselves help woman, our children, and society at large?
Vicki: Helping men is helping women, and helping women is helping men. They are two wing tips of the same bird. We need to work together to prevent generational wounding and that begins with radical self-awareness for both men and women. When you know better, you do better - Maya Angelou famously said. So helping men understand their emotions, understand how to process their feelings in healthy ways, understand how to tap into their creative genius and follow the compass of their intuition will result in more balanced, kind, thoughtful boyfriends, husbands, fathers, leaders, and humans.
Make Muse: Where do men play into feminism, in your opinion?
Vicki: I’m going to make this point: I don’t think the word ‘feminism’ is fully recognizable anymore for me. I notice men twinge when they hear it, for its loaded with so much ammunition. What feminism means to me is different than what it means to you currently reading this is different than the guy at the grocery store - and that's ineffective at best, and dangerous at worst. It has created “meaning volatility” - and just like with crypto - that much volatility can’t be trusted. My solution is to acknowledge the positive power of the feminist movement AND move into a humanist movement. Being a humanist may mean exactly what being a feminist means to you AND it's more inclusive, less attacking- being a humanist simply means advocating for equality amongst all people.
Make Muse: Is it correct, in your opinion, for there to be a lot of attention on women and feminism right now?
Vicki: I welcome every opportunity to talk about one of the most relevant and pressing issues of our time: the intersection of gender dynamics and human connection. We cannot talk about women without talking about men and vice versa, so I welcome balanced perspectives that actually work toward meaningful progress and understanding.
Make Muse: As a writer, what has been your favorite article or piece you’ve written?
Vicki: I have yet to release that piece yet. For me, my writings are kind of like my paintings. I do them late at night, alone, contemplatively in bed. And then I sleep on it and read them the next day with fresh eyes. More tinkering, more editing ensures. Soon, I’ll be sharing them publicly, but, for now, they are incubating. They are my creative babies.
Make Muse: What is a book or article you think everyone should read?
Vicki: This is kinda like asking people what their favorite city they’ve ever visited is - it's an impossible question. I order books five copies at a time and gift them based on where that person is, what they need, what they are lacking. The book I’m gifting most recently is Kamal Ravikant’s “Live Your Truth” - it's been a bubble bath for my mind over breakfast every morning. My author loves span from Maya Angelou to Krishnamurti to Marcus Aurelius to Hafiz to Bell Towers to Jack Kerouac and back.
Make Muse: Tell us about your worldwide travels? What sparked you to embark on this journey?
Vicki: I graduated GaTech as the great financial crisis was unfurling in 2009, so I bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam and solo backpacked SE Asia for a few months. I spent a lot of time learning about life and loss through a different lens while traveling these third world countries, sometimes volunteering at orphanages, and sometimes making friends with locals. My older sister was killing it as an ad exec in NYC and helped me land my first job. The transition was really tough and I made a promise to myself that I would go back on the road if I could save every commision check without touching it. So for nearly 7 years, I saved and saved. I always knew the trip was happening - it was more than a goal, it was a mission. I even had a framed gigantic poster of the world as my backsplash at work. When it finally happened, I was so burnt out from living my life on an Outlook calendar that I spent the first half of the trip in a childlike free fall bouncing without aim from one warm tropical location to another. Nine months in, I finally did work that I was proud of when spending a week on the ground at a refugee camp in Sounio, Greece. I helped raise $7,000 in 48 hours and we bought and delivered supplies to 400 refugees. It was one of the great highlights of the trip. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time doing that work.
Make Muse: What was it like being a solo female traveler?
Vicki: Being a solo female traveler is one of the most transformative things a woman can do for herself. You learn what you’re made of: that you’re capable of more than you imagined, that you’re stronger than you gave yourself credit for, that you're wiser than your years because on the road you have to be your own everything. Everything.
As a solo female traveler, you have to be your own best friend, your own bodyguard, your own GPS system emotionally and literally, your own lover, your own support network, your own logistics wizard, your own… everything. It's as exhausting as it is empowering. In shorter doses I found it empowering, in longer stretches, I found it exhausting and deeply lonely. And I will say- great things happen when you acknowledge that you’re tired and alone: you figure out what you need to survive when lost in the desert.
So travel, even a short distance or a few days- to truly know yourself. Its the most powerful direct action I’ve ever experienced as a direct path to spiritual growth.
Make Muse: What are the next steps for your work on men and gender?
Vicki: I’m creating content focused on my studies about men both in written, visual, and audio form. My vision for a podcast launch is a multi-city college tour, where I would speak with young college men and bring a panel of my dear guy friends in for a long deep dive in a morning assembly style session. Much of our sexual trauma is inflicted during college, and that pain lingers for decades. Having really open and real conversations with young men is the only goal. I imagine we will be sharing perspectives about what consent looks and feels like, how to always act from an inner compass of integrity even if its unpopular at the moment, how to honor a woman’s body and create meaningful human connection- topics that will fundamentally plant seeds of thought in these young men that there is a better way to be a better man. Young boys are growing up the unprotected generation- access to technology and porn means from the age of 10 they could be exposed to sexual material that deeply shapes how they behave in intimate situations.
Make Muse: What is your advice for those who want to make a change to gender roles for men and women worldwide?
Vicki: My advice is to always lead with curiosity. None of us really know anything, we’re all just passionately curious. If you want to make a change, first study. Learn from the greats that came before you. And at the same time, start your own lab of thought. Throw a dinner party with a theme, structure the conversation. Talk to your barista, uber driver, cashier as if they are old friends. Ask them their thoughts and you will begin to see the world as an open book of collective thought. Surround yourself with people who are also curious and encourage each other forward. Your family, friends, coworkers may not understand - release the expectation that they have to. The only person that you owe anything to is yourself, remember to be proud of you first.