A surge of sympathy votes saw astronaut aspirant Roshini Muniam, who was trolled online with sexist comments, sprint ahead of four male rivals in a Facebook competition to win a spot at a space camp in Florida, USA.
The only female finalist of Axe deodorant’s Apollo Space Race competition garnered nearly 30,000 votes (as at 5.30pm). Her nearest competitor was trailing with 25,500 votes. A day ago, she had the least number of votes.
The contestants underwent a series of challenges which tested their mental strength and endurance. The pictures of the top five were posted online where visitors were allowed to cast their votes.
An elated Roshini, 27, was surprised at the positive response, and thanked netizens for supporting her dream. “Lovely Friday morning, folks. I jumped outta bed just now when I got a call from a friend saying that votes have gone up by 5,000 this morning.
"Now every time I refresh, it's going up like the stock market. At 5am when I went to sleep it was 3K++, now as I am typing this, it is reaching 10,000.
“My heartfelt thanks goes out to the thousands of people out there who have finally heard my call. THANK YOU, THANK YOU a MILLION TIMES!! Please keep voting and accept my humble appreciation. It is YOUR SUPPORT that keeps me going!” she posted on her Facebook page this morning.
The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that the post graduate student was discriminated against and insulted on her profile featured in Axe’s Facebook page, due to her gender.
A comment posted by Syed Wazien expressed surprise at a woman’s desire to go to space while another, by Dimitriy Mirovsky, was more insulting, saying that women should be prohibited from the competition as they menstruate.
A check by The Malaysian Insider today showed that the sexist comments had been removed by Axe’s Facebook administrators.
Axe, in a statement to The Malaysian Insider, said it is committed to ensuring its online platforms are regulated and the sensitivities of its fans and consumers are safeguarded.
"We do not condone remarks that are offensive or discriminatory and have processes in place to ensure these interactions comply with our communications guidelines."
Roshini’s profile was flooded with messages expressing support and urging her to stay strong. Adrian Low told Roshini to stay strong and “don't let idiots bring you down. Keep going!”, while Geetha Pillai posted, “There is no force equal to that of a determined woman… Never give up Roshini”.
Audrey Potassium commented, “I've watched your votes grow from 2,000 to 20,000 in a matter of hours whilst the other competitors stayed almost stationary. Those men who left sexist comments about you have incited the wrath of social media. You go girl!”
The competition closes next Tuesday and the winner will be announced on September 24. The winner will represent Malaysia in Florida and compete against candidates from other nations for the opportunity to go to space. Only 22 people will be selected for the Florida finals. – September 13, 2013.