Ms. Summer 2019 Cover Wins an ASME Readers’ Choice Award

Ms. has won a Readers’ Choice Award for Best News and Politics Cover in the 2020 American Society of Magazine Editor’s (ASME) Best Cover Contest.

Every cover entered in the ASME Best Cover Contest—which honored magazine covers published between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019—was posted on Facebook, where readers voted by liking covers from over 200 magazines. The Ms. cover received over 1.9K likes and reactions, 252 comments and 256 shares.

The win for Ms. is due to the passion and support from Ms. readers—like you!—who showed up to comment on and share the cover widely across their social media platforms.

Ms. Summer 2019 Cover Wins an ASME Readers' Choice Award
“Don’t Tread on Us,” Summer 2019—Katherine Spillar, executive editor; Brandi Phipps, designer; Anne Lesniak/Revolution Art Shop, illustrator.

In winning the Readers’ Choice Award for the Best News and Politics Cover, Ms. beat out print publication finalists like The Washington Post Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg’s Businessweek and The Atlantic.

As one reader commented: “Ms.—leading the way and telling it like it is.” Another wrote, “As an OBGYN I particularly love this cover and am grateful to Ms. magazine for never letting up in this battle for reproductive freedom and justice for all women.”

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The cover, designed by Brandi Phipps and illustrated by Anne Lesniak, alludes to the Gadsden flag—which depicts a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike over the phrase “don’t tread on me,” against a yellow background. Christopher Gadsden, the principal leader of the South Carolina Patriot movement during the American Revolution, designed the flag in 1778.

Ms. Summer 2019 Cover Wins an ASME Readers' Choice Award
The Gadsden flag. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Gadsden flag has grown in popularity in recent years, becoming a favorite among “Tea Party enthusiasts and Second Amendment zealots.” It is symbolic of ideological enthusiasm for minimal government intervention and vehemently opposes overreaches into the rights of individuals.

The Ms. entry turned the design on its head.

The Ms. summer 2019 cover and features story, “States v. Roe,” called attention to the seven overwhelmingly male-dominated state legislatures who, at the time, had voted to pass “dystopian,” “disgusting” anti-abortion laws which banned and criminalized abortion before many women even know they’re pregnant.

By using the intent of the flag against itself, Ms. was making a bold statement about anti-abortion laws in these states: “Keep your laws off our bodies!” (It is, of course, impossible to ignore the irony of a flag used by states that push for freedom from governmental interference on issues such as gun control and for use in patriotic displays, but then turn around and impose restrictive laws on women’s bodies.)

As one person commented on the Facebook post, Ms. covers have always represented “the true history of the women’s movement.”

By winning the Readers’ Choice Award for Best News and Politics Cover, Ms. continues to illustrate the power of independent, feminist media.


Violet Rawlings is a junior at Smith College double majoring in the Study of Women & Gender and Film & Media Studies.