Barbara Goldsmith Other Powers Essay, Research Paper
Barbara Goldsmith, author of Other Powers, demonstrated many times throughout the book that sexual relationships were spheres of force relations in which power is displayed. One such sexual relationship where there were spheres of force relations, in which power was displayed, is the relationship between Roxanna (Roxy) Hummel Claflin and Reuben Buckman (Buck) Claflin, where Buck had great power over his wife Roxy. Another sexual relationship in which there were spheres of force relations, in which power was displayed, is the relationship between Josie Mansfield and Jim Fisk where the power went both ways.
The relationship between Roxy and Buck Claflin began when Buck was given a room next to Roxy at John Snyder s. They married each other four months later and because of Buck s wealth he was the powerful figure in the relationship. Buck had the most power because he put Roxy to work telling fortunes in temporary tents where the ground was covered with sawdust, damp from tobacco juice. (Goldsmith 15) Roxy would comfort the women that came up to her with her visions. She ensured women, during a time when many babies were dying, that there dead infants were happy in the bosom of the Lord. Buck used revelations made by Roxy ,about the sins of her customers, in his blackmail schemes where he became even more wealthy than he already was. The fact that Buck had so much power and control over Roxy he was allowed to do whatever he wanted at anytime, which is how Victoria Woodhull was conceived. When Roxy went crazy once while listening to a preachers speech, Buck became infuriated with her and dragged her behind a bench and forced himself into her. Buck ruled absolutely over his family. His power status over the rest of the family was obvious and not only his kids but his wife were merely his property. This proves that Buck Claflin was the more powerful figure if not the one figure who possessed all the power within his relationship with his wife Roxy.
Josie Mansfield, once the wife of Frank Lawlor, became extremely poor and was unable to have more than one dress and pay her rent. In order to make money to survive, she became a prostitute and while on the job she met Jim Fisk, who was known for giving large money contributions to any pretty prostitute who caught his eye (Goldsmith 160). She was extremely powerful in her relationship with Fisk because of her ability to refuse his money and rebuff his advances. She did this for three months and in the process inflated her worth greatly. Eventually she began to accept the money of Jim Fisk and she even had a lasting effect on Jim Fisk s physical appearance. He began to trim his mustache and waxed the ends to handlebar perfection (160). He began to wear French cologne and kept his boots shined. He did basically whatever he could to try and impress Josie Mansfield and because of her great power due to her hard to get style, she benefited greatly from Jim Fisk. She even became a woman of great fashion and she never again had to wear the same dress twice. It was evident that even during times when women were oppressed and denied many rights, there were still chosen women who had what it takes to be successful in a relationship with a man.
Both of these sexual relationships illustrate ways in which spheres of force relations were present within the display of power. Both Buck Claflin and Josie Mansfield each were the ones in their own relationships that had the majority of the power over the other. With Buck, his power was basically absolute. Josie Mansfield, however, although she had great power, could have had it easily taken away by Jim Fisk.