The Face of Origin: sexual objectification of women in football culture

Will the NRL take a stand against sexploitation events hijacking its brand?

The annual NRL State of Origin series is upon us and once again women are sidelined and relegated to the role of "footy babe" - sexually objectified and performing for the male gaze. 

The "Face of Origin" is a modelling competition held at pubs and taverns throughout Qld and NSW during the State of Origin game series. 

Promotional material for the events feature models in skin tight hot pants and crop tops Qld and NSW team colours. Both models are shown holding "Maroons" and "Blues" footballs which appear to be official State of Origin merchandise. 


Venues promotion company Procon Leisure promises pubs and clubs that holding a "Face of Origin" event will increase sales and patronage. 

The 'modelling' is divided into three categories, cocktail wear, 'footy themed' and swimwear. Women - who are referred to as "Girls" during these events - are lined up before a 'panel of judges, sponsors and celebrities' and evaluated on their physical features. 


Here's how Procon Leisure describes the event:

Girl Vs Girl -  State Vs State!

There’s no better combination than the State of Origin together with Babes in Bikinis at your Venue!!

Every State of Origin, hot-blooded males escape their daily grind to find that perfect venue where the beers are flowing, large TV screens are blaring and the atmosphere fierce.

I'm sure you'd agree there is nothing more Australian then the State of Origin.  Add sexy footy babes competing on stage in bikinis and it's cracking night.

FACE OF ORIGIN will bring additional patrons to your venue, retain patrons after the game and give you the edge from the venue down the road.


The prize is $20,000 and includes a 'feature shoot' in Rugby League Player magazine, which is an NRL accredited publisher. 

The NRL has worked with Our Watch, White Ribbon and Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and recently made a number of resources available towards stopping violence against women. These include educational sessions, an advertisement and website.

Addressing the question of what causes violence against women, the NRL recommends readers view a video created by "Our Watch." The video tells the story of gender inequality and touches on the impact of sexual objectification.

"as a girl she gets told how pretty she is, never how clever she is, that if she wears a short dress she’s asking for it. That proper girls don’t play football and there’s no girls footy team at school anyway. She grows up and gets used to being harassed by men on the street that’s just the way it is."

The NRL's partnership with anti violence organisations and its commitment to 'stand up, speak out and take action' with its Voice against Violence campaign is commendable. Sexual exploitation events which reinforce women's role in football as sexual object rather than participant undermines this important campaign. 

Take Action!

Will the NRL take action against Procon Leisure and pubs and clubs hijacking its brand to sexually objectify women? Does the NRL endorse the inclusion of a "face of origin footy babe" photo shoot in National Rugby League magazine?

Contact the NRL:

Email Address: [email protected]

Mailing Address: National Rugby League Ltd, Rugby League Central, Driver Avenue, Moore Park NSW 2021

Locked Bag 5000
Paddington, NSW 2021

Via Twitter

Via Facebook

"The most consistent predictor of the use of men's violence towards women is the agreement, engagement and celebration of beliefs and behaviours that girls and women should be objectified and sexualised." - Danny Blay, former CEO of No to Violence and Men’s Behaviour Change Program facilitator and counsellor

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