Joan Ferguson is Not the Domme You’re Looking For

[Disclaimers: This post is about Joan Ferguson from Wentworth (or Wentworth Prison), not the character from the original show Prisoner: Cell Block H. This post has spoilers up through series five.
I owe a great deal to Joan Ferguson (and the actress who plays the role so well), as she’s helped me realise some of the darker truths of my nature. Due to that I now have a podcast and website devoted to kink.
I love the character and wouldn’t change the way she’s being written or portrayed—this post is not a criticism of those things, as I believe creative decisions belong to the show-runners who have a longer view and wider vision than viewers. I’m enjoying watching their vision play out.
Also, there are a couple gifs I don’t have a source for–if they’re yours, please let me know and I’ll credit you.]

Introduction to This Very Long Post

Two years ago I wrote a post entitled The Ultimate Domme about this character—in it I asserted that Joan Ferguson, then Governor of Wentworth Correctional Centre, was the ultimate Domme.

Over the previous two years I’ve learned a decent amount about BDSM, and the character has been developed more completely by the writers and actress.

Now: Joan Ferguson is the person we’d warn people about in the kink scene.

It’s not all bad news, though. If Dommey-Joan is your thing, I have your back.

In this piece I’ll talk about what we have about Joan kink-wise in canon, then why she’s all the red flags you could want, then I’ll give you why she could have been a Domme and finally, what she’d be like as a Domme in an AU.

First, some good news:

Evidence Canon Joan Would be Excellent at Kink

  • Joan is a sexual sadist—the actress who plays her (Pamela Rabe) has said she believes the character gets a great deal of sexual satisfaction from the things she does to people. She clearly enjoyed doing a cavity search on a particularly difficult inmate…
  • …and during a scene where another inmate used her to commit suicide (it’s a complicated situation, but trust me), Joan couldn’t have been more into it if she’d been wearing one of those strap ons that press against the pubic bone just the right way.
  • Sexual sadists are all fine and good when everyone is consenting, but when some people aren’t on board it’s a felony. (Felonies get you thrown in prison and then you don’t get to wear your hot-ass uniform and have to wear the Teal Jumper of Penance. It’s not worth it.)
  • She’s more of a reaction junkie—another word I’ve heard kinky tops called—because when she witnesses someone she likes moaning over ice cream it gives her some jollies. This is positive because she could do any number of things to another person and enjoy it as long as the other person had an extreme reaction.
  • She’s germ-phobic and would therefore be A+ with barriers and other safety protocols. I don’t believe the woman would ever touch another human being with her bare hands if she didn’t have to.
  • Joan loves props. Leather gloves, batons, pencils, fencing foils, etc. And she’s no slouch. She knows how to use any prop she comes into contact with like a pro. (See next point.)
  • She’s strong. She throws other women around like it ain’t no thang.

I am suddenly very, very interested in rough body play. (source)

  • She’s incredibly inventive. Whether in a bare ‘Correctional Officers Only’ room with a bucket of water and mentholated spirits, a prison psych ward with naught but a red pencil and a mentally unstable inmate, or a dentist’s office with a slightly loopy rapist and bog standard dental supplies, Joan Ferguson can put together an entire kink scene in a matter of seconds. It is a goddamn shame she’s a lunatic, let me tell you. Loss to the entire kink community.
  • It’s not just about physical domination, either. We’ve seen her mentally and verbally top people time and time again—sometimes in conversation, sometimes in humiliating/degrading ways. Without negotiating, she can work out exactly what will have the most profound effect on another person. Imagine what she could do with a CEPE checklist.
  • She also understands the anatomy of a kink scene. One person describes some of the ‘quality treatment’ she’s received (she doesn’t call it that, but that’s what it was) and afterward she says Joan was ‘so nice’. Which sounds like aftercare to me. This also sounds like Joan got something out of it and was basking. This is an image after one of their moments.

I prefer my cuddles on a soft bed, but you do you. (source)

  • The bottom from that scene is in the front. Joan is in the back—she seems dazed herself and I wonder what the script said.
  • She has more money than God. Toys for days. You could go to kink conferences all over the world.
  • She fences, which requires focus, strength and practise, much like throwing a whip would do.
  • And she looks like this the rest of the time.

I mean. (source)


Canon Joan is the Bad Kind of Sadist

Two years ago we couldn’t have known that Joan is one giant red flag—she appeared to have many traits that would make her an ideal D-type (Dominant, Mistress/Master, Owner, etc).

She was calm, intelligent, had an encyclopaedic understanding of human psychology. She wanted to ‘protect’ a person who was important to her (this is very Domly).

Contrary to how the media likes to portray BDSM exchanges, it’s not all about what the D-type wants—if the s-type (sub, slave, pet, property, etc) doesn’t get things they want they won’t stay. D-types generally want to make sure their s-type is well cared for.

After awhile the red flags began waving like a storm warning.

This. In every direction you look. It’s weird. (source)

The writers have made her a psychopath—or, as we like to say, one of the bad sadists. (Important note: Not all psychopaths enjoy physically hurting other humans.)

(Another important note: Not all people who enjoy hurting other humans are psychopaths. Some are fun people here to give you a good time!)

  • Psychopaths get bored very easily. She had to get into general so she could manipulate the hell out of everything with a prefrontal cortex. While that’s fun to watch (and I will follow her into Hell—don’t get me wrong), it’s not the sort of person you want to be in a relationship with. And it’s certainly not the sort of person you want to be in a power exchange with.
  • Good D-types don’t manipulate—they’re straightforward with what they need and want.
  • Joan doesn’t open up easily—I’ll get more into this in the third section of this piece—but good D-types need to be in touch with their vulnerability. They need to know their weaknesses and be able to show that side of themselves to their s-type. This one isn’t entirely her fault, but the stone-cold-Dom/me is not an ideal. It allows the s-type no room for humanity, either.
  • Psychopaths are who they need to be moment-to-moment to get what they want. There’s nothing on the inside of a psychopath. They’re sort of wearing a people-mask. Jess Warner hadn’t mastered the art of keeping her mask on all the time. Joan playing people by being 900 different characters is delightful, but good D-types have integrity. They’re the same person through-and-through. Lying about who they are is anathema to them.
  • Joan would probably enjoy someone doing everything she wanted and who allowed her to indulge her sadism, but she needs to feel like she’s outsmarting people.
  • Even if she had the most hardcore masochist and devoted Leather slave at home, she’d still go to work at Wentworth and torture people there all day. (In my AU, she’s still Governor, okay?) Because there would be people getting in the way of whatever she was trying to accomplish and they’d have to pay. I love her, but she doesn’t lack ego.

For her to be a good D-type she’d have to not be dangerous to society. Here’s how that could be.

How Joan Ferguson Could Have Been a Domme

I have been fascinated by serial killers and sociopaths since I was a young teenager and have read quite a bit about them. It’s rare for psychopaths to be born—it happens, but it’s odd—usually psychopathy is created. Severe child abuse is one part of the equation, as is some other mental illness. You need a combo. (Thankfully, or else there would be many more of them out here.)

It has been intimated that Joan’s father raped her. Though that could have been a manipulation. He certainly was a difficult man to please as a human being. One thing after another has happened to Joan to remove her further from humanity.

As mentioned before—she doesn’t open up easily, due to her father teaching her emotions were weakness—when you grow up without access to your emotions you lose the ability to reach them. They atrophy.

If she had been met with kindness at some point—if she had been given the opportunity to experience someone seeing her for her, meeting her on her level, and accepting her that way—things could have gone differently.

I’m not saying she wouldn’t still have had a propensity for kink—a person can be oriented that way no matter their background.

In one of Gloria Brame’s books she interviewed a person who said she was glad she’d discovered BDSM when she was 18 because otherwise she would have gone through life being ‘a complete shitfuck asshole’. She was very dominant, but because she had people to do these things with consensually she didn’t feel compelled to non-consensually dominate every person in her path. She could also identify what she was in the first place, which is the first step to not being a terrible person.

I rather feel that if Joan had met the right sort of submissive when she was eighteen or so, maybe things would have gone a bit differently. Someone who could have helped her realise some things—smell the kinky coffee, as it were—and given her a creative, consensual outlet. If that had happened there’d be a different Joan Ferguson out there in AUland. Even later she would have had a chance. After the last couple years, I don’t know if she has a chance—she’s been humiliated, degraded and had to do too many things that further separate her from the rest of humanity.

At the same time—she doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong. Psychopaths generally don’t.

However, we’ve established that if you want someone in charge of your body, mind and life, you want it to be the Joan Ferguson with a full compliment of empathy, compassion, self awareness and vulnerability, though, so, not the one we currently have in canon.

[If you were with canon Joan and someone convinced her you’d betrayed her she’d kill or maim you. She’s not the most stable person so it wouldn’t be that difficult to convince her of your betrayal, since she’s been betrayed so many times. If you’re okay with being killed or maimed for her…well, I’m more interested in realistic power exchange, which is what this piece is about.]

What Sort of Domme AU Joan Ferguson Would Have Been

There are different types of power exchange styles but I’m pretty certain Joan would have been into Leather. Not just because she likes her leather gloves, but because it’s based in a military background and can have quite strict protocol. She likes her things just so and while any D-type can have everything ‘just so’ in their relationship, I feel the military background fits.

{Though I’m of two minds on Joan’s father being military. He had a certain bearing, yes, but they also have an enormous amount of money that makes me wonder about a drugs connection. She mentions his ‘foot soldiers’ at one point, which is a term for people who actually sell drugs on the street, as opposed to the people who handle the money and other aspects of the operation. As he’s Russian, and they eventually left Russia, I wondered if he was in the military and eventually ran a drug operation much like a military regime then they fled their home country for this reason. Either way, she grew up with strict control and being allowed to have that over another person would give her great pleasure.}

Mothering: Speaking of Joan’s childhood—we know nothing about her mother. Jianna wrote a letter where she said Joan could get her son off to sleep better than anyone. She has a fondness for babies, even if it seems counterintuitive, but she’s never been allowed to explore that side of herself. Her father actively discouraged feelings and emotion (and probably gentleness), which would explain why she’s so awkward with affection.

If allowed, within the context of an established power exchange, I believe Joan could learn to be gentle and nurturing with another person in a mothering role, which would help her heal some of her own wounds. I’m not necessarily talking about sexualised age play—kink encourages playing and exploring various facets of a person’s personality in non-judgemental ways. If an s-type enjoyed being bathed, cradled, dressed or put to bed, as it made them feel submissive, they could request this and it would allow Joan to care for someone in a way she’d never been able to.

Mentorship: Joan loves to mentor someone. She loves to protect and guide, as well. She wants someone who is absolutely and utterly on her side, who wouldn’t dream of betraying her. And she wants to be the same to that sort of person. She wants to be recognised as the chief authority in another person’s life—someone who knows absolute best. For this reason I think Joan would be into:

24/7 TPE: (24/7 Total Power Exchange) This is practically what she has with the inmates. She tells them what to eat, what to wear, when to get up, how much money they can spend, etc. If someone she respected, who she thought was a worthwhile person, chose to give up all of that authority to her—woo, talk about a head rush.

Some Aspects of Leather: There are what feels like billions of protocols for Leather and I don’t want to get into Old Guard vs New Guard. I’m not well versed enough to really get into it, for one, but one thing that is popular is the s-type removing the D-type’s boots at the end of the day. Somehow I don’t think Joan would like anyone touching her feet. But if you were lucky she’d probably let you shine her shoes eventually. And do leather glove care.

It could be the s-type’s job to always walk to the left and two steps behind and to always open the door for her. (Actually, I can’t make up my mind if she’d want to open the door for her sub or if she’d want her sub to open the door for her. It’s the one thing I can’t decide on.)

Other Possible Protocols:

  • To always help her with her coat first before putting on their own.
  • When you were considered good enough you could take care of her work uniform.
  • To make sure the cutlery and week’s vodka were aligned properly in the drawers and freezer.
  • To clean the fish bowl on a regular schedule.
  • Her house has many shiny surfaces—those will need to be cleaned without streaks.
  • Eventually she may allow you to clean her house when she isn’t there—can you make a bed to military bounce-a-coin-standards?
  • Can you fold a fitted sheet?
  • Can you detail a car? You’ve seen her car.
  • Eventually she’ll let you borrow her car to pick up the dry cleaning. Huge trust moment.
  • Some people prefer to be chauffeured around, while others prefer to do the driving, as it makes them feel in control. Joan would want to do the driving.
  • When you go to restaurants she would order for you—you wouldn’t even get a menu.
  • Cleaning her house—you know you’re going to find hair pins everywhere…somehow.
  • Everything will need to be cleaned and disinfected on the regular. We’re talking about Joan Hazmat Ferguson, here.
  • She will like her coffee and tea a very particular way—colour, sugar, temperature, roast. Learn it. This is what a butler’s book is for. (A book with a person’s every preference in.)
  • Your job is to make her life easier. She will run your life so you can make hers run more smoothly.
  • And she will be very good at running your life.

An occasionally she gets in these break-y moods and you have to clean *that* up. (Thanks to provider!)

Harder things to do:

  • She asks: ‘What are you thinking right now?’ [This is AU Joan who is a good Domme. She needs to know what you’re thinking at all times—she needs to know you as well as she possibly can do. Whether it’s: ‘That you look really hot in skinny jeans’ or ‘Why do you name all of your fish Bob?’ or ‘That song I am slowly going crazy 1-2-3-4-5-6 switch, Crazy going slowly am I 6-5-4-3-2-1 switch!’] Can you answer immediately and honestly?
  • Telling her when she’s being a little too pushy. Even in AUland she’s still Joan with a tendency to command before thinking. because she’s Always Right, yes? AU Joan is aware of it, though, and simply needs to be politely reminded that whatever command hasn’t been negotiated yet. AU Joan doesn’t get shirty about it and ask if you had something better to do.
    ‘No, we hadn’t discussed turning over control of my finances yet, but as you’re clearly excellent at handling money, yes, going to the bank to set up an account with a monthly allowance is a good idea. Discussing long-term investment plans sounds like a plan.’

Other notes because I’ve thought about this a LOT:

  • I bet she’d always want to be called Governor. Not ‘Ma’am’ or ‘Mistress’ or ‘Master’ (in Leather, some women choose to be called ‘Master’ rather than ‘Mistress’.) She’d be Governor at home, too.
  • She’d be a heavy sadist. Inventive like whoa, with a vast array of implements and experience, and into all sorts of scenes. But the woman could bring the pain. She’d be into intense scenes of all types. She’d get that gleam in her eye and you’d be half thrilled and half terrified. Interrogation scene? Medical play? Bondage and forced orgasms? Heavy impact? Chemical play? Fear play? Who knows?!

You’d only know she’d be incredible at it.

And she’d be so nice after.

Billions (Season One)


U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) has the hate horn on for hedge fund genius Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod (Damian Lewis).

Rhoades knows Axelrod has built his fortune from nothing using less-than-honest means—primarily insider trading—and it’s his job to prosecute people who break the law on behalf of the American people.

But this instance is personal. Rhoades really wants to take Axe down.

His desire is so strong he’s willing to do things that are beyond certain lines.

Axelrod is a popular figure in New York, though. He was the sole survivor from his firm after 9/11 and made it his goal to take care of the families of his late colleagues. Coming from a blue-collar background, he is a completely self-made billionaire who’s given hundreds of millions to the fire department, as well as doing other good works.

If Rhoades is going to take him down, his case has to be air-tight.

And he wants to take him down forever.

A potential difficulty is that Rhoades’ wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff), works for Axe—she’s a therapist to his many traders. (People who handle that much money are under a great deal of stress and need a therapist close to hand.)

Wendy Rhoades has been with Axe since the beginning—they’re more than colleagues—they’re friends.

The relationship is strictly platonic, though, as Axelrod is madly in love with his wife, Lara (Malin Akerman), a woman with a similar hard scrabble background and the mother of his two children. She is not a woman to be fucked with. If someone messes with her husband she will Lady Macbeth them. Except she’ll actually do something to them, rather than puss out.

Due to his wife’s position at Axe’s firm, Rhoades’ Chief Assistant Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) and the ultra-capable Assistant DA Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad) urge him to recuse himself.

Also advising him at every turn is his highly-connected father, Chuck Rhoades Sr (Jeffery DeMunn). Chuck the Elder constantly offers advice and guidance whether it is requested or appreciated—the viewer gets the impression Chuck the Younger isn’t living up to his father’s expectations in one way or another no matter what he does.

That said, Chuck Jr has no scruples about asking his father for a favour when it suits his purposes—if you want clear cut good guys and bad guys go read a fairy tale. This show is not for you.

Over in the Axe camp there’s Mike ‘Wags’ Wagner, played by the hilarious David Costabile as well as the shadowy Hall (just… ‘Hall’) played perfectly by Terry Kinney. He’s a sort of sinister adviser on what Axe needs to do in any scenario in order to avoid jail time or prosecution. He procures spies and offers various options in a straightforward way.

There’s also a variety of traders, each with their own personality quirks and foibles. And nicknames. Pouch is called Pouch because he has no balls. His ballsac is empty. It’s a pouch. Like that.

A scene involving Axe and a trader called ‘Dollarbill’ Stearn later in the season was what my husband called the ‘funniest scene in a dramatic series ever’. It was pretty fucking funny.

Then there are the cameos. Penn Jillette makes an appearance, as does Metallica (?!)

While I’m sort of on the topic of music—this is the first show I’ve seen that has a dubstep soundtrack (it’s by Eskmo and it really works).

When a show opens like this you know it’s going to be good. Or someone’s been kidnapped. (source)

The reason I’m reviewing the show on this site is because the Rhoades are into kinky sex—Chuck is sexually submissive. The opening scene is Chuck tied up on the floor and Wendy putting a cigarette out on him then easing the burn by… well. He’s very into it.

The kink doesn’t feature heavily, but it’s accurate, thanks to a company called Kink on Set. In a later episode, Chuck goes to see a Mistress he refers to as ‘Troy’ which is a head nod to the woman who runs Kink on Set, Olivia Troy. (I learned about the show through an article about the company on Vice.)

It’s so nice to see accurate kink in the media. I wished there was more of it in the show. What is there is mostly implied.

Still, the show itself is compelling enough I’m looking forward to the next season starting in February.

If you’re only looking for the kink, there probably isn’t enough to make it worth your while. If you enjoy shows with morally-ambiguous characters who aren’t necessarily likeable or easy to root for then I highly recommend this one.

Because the characters are insanely wealthy there are a great deal of very nice material possessions on display including helicopters and sweet-ass cars. I’d hate to think what the production budget is like but it’s fun to look at.


Billions airs on Showtime in the States and the rights are owned by Sky in the U.K.

The Ultimate Domme

Gov Joan Ferguson

Originally, I thought a Tumblr blog would be adequate for my kinky purposes. And, while it has its merits, it’s not meeting all of my needs, which is why I’ve started this blog and will be focusing most of my energy here.

One thing Tumblr does have, however, is a plethora of pictures and gifs of the Ultimate Domme, Governor Joan Ferguson of Wentworth Correctional Centre. Wentworth is an Australian prison drama that’s too gay for words.

The best lip lick

‘Well, you’d better find some and they’d better be about me.’

Joan Ferguson doesn’t appear until the start of the second series. She is precise. She is rational. She is controlled (until she isn’t). She is sarcastic. And she straightens her uniform like a boss.

Suits must be straight

‘That’s because I *am* the boss.’

She is tall (6′ or 182 cm) and her voice is velvet.

And yes, she’s also amoral and sadistic. Pretend it’s role-play if you don’t like it.

I would be doing the submissives of the world a disservice by not letting them know this glorious creature exists. Her desk is an ode to control.

It *always* looks like this. If those pencils are askew then something is badwrong.

It *always* looks like this. If those pencils are askew then something is badwrong.

She has what I call the Strut of Authority.

:blistering guitar riff:

:blistering guitar riff:

And her command works even on non-human animals.

Even dogs know

You, in the collar and leash. Someone gave you permission to speak?

Every episode she says something so Domme-like it kills me. It has to be on purpose.

You know what else takes those things? A great flogging scene.

You know what else takes those things? A great flogging scene.

Just...everyone. --Domme goals.

Just…everyone. –Domme goals.

(This gif came from a now defunct Tumblr called witchqueenn)

Oh yes, Ferguson, who is called The Freak by the prisoners, has a fetish for leather gloves. She puts them on before abusing inmates.

Leather glove love 02

Leather glove love 03

Leather glove love

The character is played by Canadian-Australian actress Pamela Rabe, who has acquired a devoted following on Twitter under the tag #RabesBabes. When she appeared on a radio show to promote Wentworth before the third series, the host persuaded her to take a photo for us.

This is how she looks at people she likes. No, really. (That's not sarcasm.)

This is how she looks at people she likes. No, really. (That’s not sarcasm.)

It’s not like she knew the creator of the gifs in this post also made this:

My ideal weight

That’s enough bowing to the Ultimate Domme for the moment, I think. Oh wait.

One more ‘what have the subs been doing wrong now’ gif:

Walking in and owning the place

This woman would not tolerate brats.

Okay, no, really. Just one more. Look at this body language. I call this the Domme Stance of YOU WILL OBEY.

Domme stance of Dominance

I am in charge even when the room is empty.

(This gif comes from [source link is dead].)

You just know Ferguson owns a whip or a riding crop or a flogger.

What do I mean ‘or’.

If you enjoy these images and gifs, more can be found here. Be warned, you will be dominated by the sexy. (I got all but the two noted gifs for this post from that blog. Many thanks, lady!)