A competition on Facebook by a male grooming brand to send a Malaysian to a space camp in Florida, USA to train to be an astronaut turned ugly when the only female finalist was “trolled”, drawing sexist comments from netizens.
Post-graduate student Roshini Muniam, who is one of the top five finalists of Axe deodorant’s Apollo Space Race competition, was discriminated against online due to her gender.
A comment posted by Syed Wazien on Roshini’s profile, featured in Axe’s Facebook page, expressed surprise over a woman’s desire to go to space.
“What – a woman?! No way, hose!!!” he said.
Geeky Fredward wrote that Roshini should not compete and must make way for her male counterparts to win the competition.
“Banyak lagi competition untuk female only kat luar tu lady.. (there are many other competitions for females out there, lady) don’t ruin what’s intended or most considered to be men only chance?”
Another commentator, Dimitriy Mirovsky, was more insulting, saying that women should be prohibited from the competition as they menstruate.
“pompuan REJEK...... lelaki sahaje..... kang tampon ang pecah kat langit tu abis rosak space craft tu..... kah kah kah......” (Women should be rejected… it is only for males… if your tampon burst while you are in space, the entire spacecraft will be spoilt… kah kah
This is reminiscent of an incident in the Malaysian parliament in 2007 when controversial Barisan Nasional MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin, in a heated exchange in the Dewan Rakyat with opposition MPs over a leaky roof in Parliament House, said: “Mana ada bocor? Batu Gajah pun bocor tiap-tiap bulan juga. (Where is the leak? The Batu Gajah MP also leaks every month.)”.
Batu Gajah MP Fong Po Kuan and other women MPs were outraged by his comments and he was eventually forced to apologise.
Plucky Roshini, 27, has hit back at the trolls.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I am all out to win this competition because I want to inspire ordinary people to have extraordinary dreams & goals,” she posted on the page.
The contestants underwent a series of challenges which tested their mental strength and endurance. The pictures of the top five were posted online. Visitors to the page then could vote for their choice.
Some netizens have also come out in her defence, with Rajakumari Rajagopal pointing out that the competition was open to all Malaysians and that she qualified on merit.
“She was the only Malaysian woman who had made her way to the semi-finals and now to the finals. She needs your help and everyone's help to make her dream come true. Why can’t she have a dream? Why can’t she be given an equal right to participate? Why can’t she be the final person to represent Malaysia. Malaysia Boleh! 1 Malaysia! Hidup Malaysia!”
Rafizal Rahman said Roshini should not be praised and not criticised, pointing out there was already a lot of female astronauts in the world.
The competition closes next Tuesday and the winner will be announced on September 24.
The winner will represent Malaysia in Florida and compete against other nations' candidates for an opportunity to go to space.
Only 22 people will be selected for the Florida experience. – September 12, 2013.