'Jasmine's song' from Aladdin is the new feminist anthem our girls need

Naomi Scott is Jasmine in Disney's live-action 'Aladdin'.
Naomi Scott is Jasmine in Disney's live-action 'Aladdin'. Photo: Disney / Daniel Scott

Disney princesses have come a long way.

Far from passively waiting for Prince Charming to show up and save the day, the female characters we've seen in movies like Moana, Frozen and Brave have given us feminist role models. They are so much more than helpless wallflowers in nice frocks – they're complex characters that know their own minds.

The Princess Jasmine in Disney's original Aladdin was perhaps somewhere in between. Sure, she was brave, assertive and prepared to stand up for her belief in marrying for love. But she also allowed her voice to be silenced by the men around her.  

Now a new Princess Jasmine is taking up the mantel – and she has an empowering feminist anthem to magnify her voice.

The song, Speechless, was written by Disney songwriter Alan Menken and The Greatest Showman's Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The lyrics are spine tingling: "I won't be silenced, you can't keep me quiet, won't tremble and you try it – all I know is I won't go speechless.

"'Cause I'll breathe, when they try to suffocate me, don't you underestimate me. 'cause I know that I won't go speechless."

Naomi Scott, who plays Princess Jasmine in the new live action movie, says that Speechless has a powerful message. "[Jasmine] says, 'enough is enough, I'm going to make a choice here and stand up for what I believe in'. It's such a strong song."

Speaking about the new song to Digital Spy, Scott says that the core of the ballad is about owning your voice and using it to speak up against injustice. ""Everyone can relate to the idea of being shut down," she adds.

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Scott notes that recording a brand new song for Jasmine gave her some artistic licence. "I think because it was new, you feel a bit of freedom to really make it your own, there's not someone that's gone before you. Ultimately, I was just really excited to make it feel raw. She's angry in that moment."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jasmine sings the song with a range of emotions – we see both her vulnerability and her passion. But to me, it's her raw anger that makes the song such a powerful feminist anthem.  

For too long girls have been conditioned to believe that they should suppress their anger. Studies show that by the time girls are seven years old, they're asked to use their 'nice voices' three times as often as boys.

Feminist author Soraya Chemaly unpacks this in her book Rage Becomes Her. "Research shows that adults convey very subtle ideas and one of the strongest that children hear is that girls should think about the people around them, and prioritise their needs over their own. They should be nurturing, affectionate and feminine – those things are not really compatible with anger," she writes.

This type of implicit bias has been going on for centuries – but the tide is starting to turn – and that is definitely a good thing. If women around the globe are ever to achieve equality we'll need our kids to own their rage – it might be their most powerful tool in fighting against injustice.   

And perhaps Princess Jasmine, with a powerful combination of righteous fury and unwavering self-belief will inspire a new generation of girls to embrace, rather than suppress their anger.