Milk and Ron English Essay

Submitted By lrlozano4
Words: 666
Pages: 3

Luis R. Lozano Visual Analysis
Breasts have been sexualized by society throughout most of human history. In our society and culture we glorify them. Many women regard them as key features of their sexual attractiveness. Men, depending on sexual or personal preference, are naturally attracted and seduced by them. But as babies we were nurtured and fed by them. We depended on them for our survival. So how did we go from feeding off of the breasts of our mothers to sexualizing those of whom we wish to mate with, and using them as a means to measure our own or other’s attractiveness? American contemporary artist, Ron English, addresses that sexualization and induces the viewer to contemplate on this question, along with a couple of others, in his painting Milkmade. In Milkmade, Ron English humorously depicts both aspects of female anatomy that impact humans and society by manifesting them as an attractive nude female figure with voluptuous breasts, with udders instead of nipples, and a cow’s head instead of a human female’s. The minotaur-like figure coined as a “cowgirl”, a recurring theme in English’s artwork, is depicted breastfeeding what seems to be a newborn human child. In the background we see Ron English’s trademark collage of comic book covers, in this case comic books of cowgirls. This painting is both attention grabbing and thought provoking. Combining absurdity and social commentary fluently, it is faithful to English’s humorous style and manages to get the point across by being blunt without being overbearing. Milkmade takes the sexuality of breasts and clashes it with the basic necessity that it is to newborn babies. The cowgirl with its udders ready to feed its newborn baby, and the loving maternal look in her cow eyes contrast two behaviors: a baby drinks breast milk and builds a relationship with its mother; and an adult grows up drinking dairy milk and has no relationship with the cow that made it. Men are also not attracted to a cow’s udders, unless they have a strangely specific fetish. And women don’t usually envy a cow’s udders. Yet we sexualize the “udders” that once fed us, and those that will feed our children. Illustrating that contrast, Milkmade incites another question to its viewer: why not sexualize the udders that feed us now? The comic book wallpaper behind the breastfeeding cowgirl also sparks up some thoughts about pop culture’s portrayal of women. In most of the comic book covers that are legible and visible, the viewer can see female characters dressed in very revealing attire, and depicted in