Yes we can! Music, comedy and books to inspire confidence

From Megan Thee Stallion’s brag-rap to Rose Matafeo’s breakup standup, our critics round up the best art devoted to empowerment


Adding their own contribution to the male-heavy lineage of brag rap, the queens of Texas, Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé, came together in 2020 for Savage Remix, a summery ode to female multidimensionality: classy, bougie and, indeed, ratchet. Over an infectiously staccato beat, Meg brings out Beyoncé’s playful side, espousing the joy of a generous derriere in her low-rumbling purr: “If you don’t need to jump to put jeans on / You ain’t feeling my pain.” In an industry that likes to portray established women as embittered towards the upstarts, Savage Remix is proof that the most empowering forms of confidence are often communal. Jenessa Williams



Support the Girls.
Waiting game … Support the Girls. Photograph: Magnolia Pictures/Allstar

Andrew Bujalski’s US comedy Support the Girls sees upbeat Lisa (Regina Hall), the manager of a “breastaurant” sports bar, attempt to instil self-esteem in her waitresses in the face of endless objectification. While trapped by their need for a steady income, the group begin to develop confidence in each other and the belief that they deserve better and can dream bigger. On one stressful day, Lisa’s characteristic optimism is worn thin as everything falls apart. But through it all they are confident in one thing: the power of female friendship. Francesca Hughes



Rachel Mars in Your Sexts Are Shit.
The ways of love … Rachel Mars in Your Sexts Are Shit. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Your Sexts Are Shit is a swaggering, explicit and surprisingly sweet celebration of sexual longing. Rachel Mars’s lecture-style show unpicks erotic letters from famous lovers and sits them side by side with modern-day sexts. The show is in your face and beautifully queer, and it delights in the things we tell each other in secret. The aching nostalgia for the romance of letters is crossed with the passionate, often desperate pleas they contain, leaving you wanting to luxuriate in writing your deepest desires down on paper. But perhaps, in the meantime, a cheeky text will do. Kate Wyver



Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

The narrator of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Saleem Sinai, born “at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence”, is a special child – and he wants you to know it. “I have been a swallower of lives,” he declares, “and to know me, just the one of me, you’ll have to swallow the lot as well.” Over 600 glorious, gleefully overstuffed pages, he goes on to make his readers endure the birth pangs of a nation. It can be necessarily dark, enraging and exhausting – but Midnight’s Children is also full of such zest for every messy aspect of life that you can’t help but feel inspired. Sam Jordison



Rose Matafeo in Horndog.
All in … Rose Matafeo in Horndog. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Standup is dominated by self-deprecating tales, but Rose Matafeo’s award-winning 2018 Edinburgh show Horndog spins tragedy into empowerment. Written post-breakup, Horndog introduces Matafeo’s definition of horniness: “Girls putting 100% into something that’s not worth it”, whether that’s a subpar boy or complex dance routine. She explores her own intense approach to relationships and the rise of “adult white girl self-esteem” – faux feminism expressed via slogan-covered notebooks. Ultimately, it’s a show about Matafeo embracing her all-in personality. Thanks to a showstopping finale and celebrity cameo, you’ll be left believing her refrain: “Putting 100% into something will always be worth it.” Rachael Healy


Rachael Healy, Francesca Hughes, Sam Jordison, Jenessa Williams and Kate Wyver

The GuardianTramp

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