Disney Debate: Jasmine

Welcome to Disney Debate!

Over the next 11 weeks, we’ll discuss each of the “official” Disney princesses. Read the information and question below and then use the comments section to join the debate. Engage with people’s comments by replying to them, and add your own points by creating a new comment. Comments must be civil to be included.

WEEK 6: JASMINE

Many feminists feel that Princess Jasmine (from Aladdin) is the first feminist Disney Princess. Lines like “I am not a prize to be won!” and “Maybe I don’t want to be a princess” prompt the assessment that she is “a pretty strong woman with a solid feminist streak” (Bustle).

Do you think Jasmine is more feminist than the Disney princesses who came before? And, if so, do you think that is positive or negative? 

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12 thoughts on “Disney Debate: Jasmine

  1. I think it’s worth noting that the only issue she takes with being a princess is being forced to marry by X date. Like DPs going all the way back to AURORA, she rejects THAT, in favor of marrying “for love”.

    So there’s precedent. And JUST after “I am NOT a prize to be won!”…next time we see her? The lead-in to “A Whole New World”.

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    1. I agree that Jasmine is actually a pretty traditional Disney princess, but I think the idea that most Disney princesses have to reject some kind of arranged marriage isn’t true. Aurora does have an arranged marriage, but it turns out to be with the man she loves. Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel don’t have that issue, Belle doesn’t either since her father isn’t forcing her marry Gaston. It’s only in the more “feminist” movies that the princesses have to deal with that issue.

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  2. I don’t think it’s a negative thing necessarily. Like Ariel, she longs for her freedom, to be able to explore things that are new and different and to make her own choices rather than having them made for her (this isn’t an uncommon theme). She hates being cooped up (symbolism of the doves) and wants to marry for love, which takes time, rather than be rushed into marriage.

    When she meets Aladdin she has some air of superiority, but eventually falls in love with him and realizes that titles aren’t all that important.

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  3. There is actually a certain irony in that, in wanting to marry “for love,” rather than for status (as a princess in real history would probably have preferred, by the way) Jasmine is, in a sense, preaching anti-feminism by being a woman who places personal relationships ahead of her “career!”

    My own problem with “Aladdin” comes with the deus ex machina of the Sultan arbitrarily changing the law (a law, by the way, that Disney’s writers arbitrarily invented themselves, as it does not exist in the original story) to allow the Princess to marry whomever she should choose. I can’t speak to Islamic (or possibly pre-Islamic) law, but in traditional Christian Europe, an overlord could not technically force any woman, even his own daughter, to marry without her own consent, though he could generally forbid her to marry any one but the man whom he chose. Disney seems to approve the manner of the Leftist Great Leader(Führer, Вождь)’s simply setting aside the law in order to fulfill their vision of justice, rather than using the traditional (and not supralegal and essentially irresponsible) mechanism of the sovereign’s simply granting Aladdin the title of “prince.”

    Part of that no doubt is the result of American writers’ and audiences’ assumption that “prince” and “princess” always refer to the child of a monarch, rather than to sovereigns who are nonetheless subject to a greater sovereign — as the Germans would say, using “prince” and “princess” to translate „Königssohn“ and „Königstochter“ rather than „Prinz/Prinzessin“ or „Fürst/Fürstin“.) When in 1509 Emperor Maximilian made Iacopo IV Appiani the Prince of Piombino, he was not thereby adopting him either as the son of his predecessor Iacopo III (unnecessary, since Iocopo was his legitimate father) nor as his own son: he was exercising his legitimate authority to make him ruler of that territory.

    Since Aladdin had already proven himself “worthy,” why shouldn’t the Sultan simply have proclaimed him prince of some territory subject to Agrabah or titular prince of Agrabah itself? (The actual reason is, of course, the innate egalitarianism of Disney’s writers, which cannot bear that anyone should believe in even the possibility of a mésalliance.)

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    1. Agreed! Once Disney began infusing “feminism” into their films, the princess was always fighting back against an arranged marriage — as if the earlier, more traditional princesses, always had to marry the man their father required. But this is nowhere in the earlier films (except Sleeping Beauty, but she actually falls in love with that man before even knowing she’s betrothed to him). It’s a complete feminist invention.

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  4. I felt that Jasmine was more along the Ariel lines, a brat who sometimes said the right thing but didn’t really act in the right way, but now that I read more here, maybe I should give a bit more credit than Ariel because of her refusal to be married off. However, her duplicity on that issue of fairness . . . she acts all egalitarian, marry for love, etc. talking to her father and then treats Aladdin like dirt when she finds out he isn’t a prince (despite the movie seeming to imply she kind of knew).

    I kind of feel this movie isn’t really a traditional princess movie thought because it seems it supposed to be more about Aladdin, a Cinderella in reverse so to speak.

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    1. I definitely agree that this movie is much more about Aladdin’s journey than Jasmine’s. But I’m not sure where Jasmine treats Aladdin like dirt when she realizes he’s not a prince. It’s when he’s a prince that she’s rude to him!

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      1. I haven’t seen it in awhile, but I thought she rejected him after he was exposed to be Aladdin. I don’t like this movie much (it seems to have too much Genii and Jafar in proportion to Aladdin and Jasmine for me), so I don’t watch it much.

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      2. It’s definitely less of a princess movie and much more of a guy movie! But no, she doesn’t reject him for being Aladdin, she’s angry with him for not telling her the truth (which seems fair) but chooses to be with him even when he’s not a prince.

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  5. Eh, she may not necessarily be my ideal princess even if she does rank somewhat high on my list (mostly thanks to the TV series), but I can say that at least she has being forced into an arranged marriage by X date as an excuse for some of her behavior. I actually was not at all fond of Belle basically acting like a jerk for most of the first act, including the way she refused Gaston. Unlike Jasmine who at least had a proverbial gun to her head and had no other options to get out of it but to act out as an excuse for her behavior, Belle was actually free to choose whether or not to marry Gaston, yet she chose not simply to say no to him, but she also chose to go as far as to outright humiliate him when rejecting him (she was seen smirking after sending him flying into a mud pool and doing a mock-wave goodbye, which makes it clear she was being very deliberate in sending him there). Don’t get me wrong, Gaston definitely deserved being rejected for his arrogant way of proposing to Belle, heck, I’d probably kick him out myself had I been in Maurice’s position, but how Belle did it was just unpleasant, period. To put it another way, what she did to Gaston was like what Marty Wolf did to Frank Jackson by plastering a “loser” stamp over his profile and thus forcing him to be unable to find a job when firing him.

    Besides, at least Jasmine wasn’t depicted as a gold-digger in the film, which was in fact how she was originally planned to be characterized, wanting the wealthiest husband in existence and being very money hungry.

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