"Didn't you know that you don't hit a woman? You. Will. See."
There are men who Would Not Hit a Girl
, and then there are these
men amongst men who take this ideal to its logical, vengeful conclusion.
More often than not, these men are Gentle Giants
and/or mild mannered Nice Guys
who either are raised with traditional values of kindness and chivalry, or are scarred by childhoods of watching their mothers being beaten
Either way, the results are the same when he sees a woman being struck
. The gentleman explodes into a roaring mass of violent fury
and proceeds to pursue the offending coward
with the relentless stamina of a wild beast; and should the brute be caught, he will
be pounded into a bloody mess
to the best of the Wife Basher Basher's ability. All cries for mercy and personal injuries will be ignored by the possessor of this trope, such is his unbound and righteous primal rage. Usually
, murder is not the intent; the basher in question instead wants to humiliate
the coward, and let him have a taste of what it's like to be the helpless one for a change.
Nevertheless; friends of this normally gentle person would find these righteous outbursts
quite disconcerting, if not downright chilling to witness. Not to mention the Broken Aesop
of solving violence with more violence, although this one only gets invoked if a child is present nearby, to provoke a He Who Fights Monsters
revelation from the hero temporarily. Occasionally, this can backfire against the Wife-Basher Basher
himself in order to present another Broken Aesop
of "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
This trope is often invoked by female villains as Wounded Gazelle Gambit
if they are attacked by male heroes in public. They know there are usually a few chivalrous big men ready to dish out Disproportionate Retribution
, even if she started it, because most people with this mindset are inclined to believe that female on male abuse
is not "real" abuse.
Senior members of organized crime with traditional values, such as the Yakuza
and The Mafia
, are likely to represent this trope. After all, they consider themselves the final bastions of traditional and honorable masculinity. This trope also works well in a character with Chivalrous Pervert
tendencies, demonstrating that even if their overly active libido and views on women raise a few eyebrows, they're kind, protective people deep down, and ladies have nothing to be afraid of them.
Compare and contrast with the similarly named Serial-Killer Killer
, and note that more often than not they also tend to be this.
See also Bully Hunter
, Even Evil Has Standards
, Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil
, Disproportionate Retribution
, and Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas
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Anime and Manga
- Bud White of L.A. Confidential. He literally rips an oak chair in two with his bare hands out of rage after hearing a suspect's description of a sexual assault of a kidnapped girl. Then, to scare the location of a kidnapped girl out of the rapist, he plays a very non-consensual game of Russian roulette with the guy's face.
- Cyrus "the Virus" Grissom, the Big Bad of Con Air and a mass murderer who claims to have killed more men than cancer, threatened to throw "Johnny 23," a convicted serial rapist, out of the title plane if he dared to try to rape the hijacked plane's only female officer. Cyrus says he normally despises rapists, but will make an exception in this case, then delivers his ultimatum. And The Hero Cameron Poe repeatedly rams Johnny's head into a bulkhead for trying to do just that later in the film. (To make things even more appropriate, Poe is a Wife Basher Basher in a "wife beater".)
- Sonny Corleone of The Godfather kicks the living daylights out of his sister's abusive husband in public. Which leads to the ambush which kills him.
- Major Payne demonstrates that he is unfit to be a police officer when he smacks a man until he falls unconscious for hitting his wife. Keep in mind that Payne did this during a training scenario and the man was an actor.
- In The Expendables, Lee Christmas came home to find his girlfriend with another guy. Returning later on (presumably to pick up some things), he found her having been beaten up by the guy, and proceeded to beat the absolute tar out of him and his basketball buddies in broad daylight. He openly admitted he would have killed the guy if it wasn't illegal, and then chastised his ex for leaving him in the first place because for all his faults he was still worth waiting for. While not shown, it's implied he doesn't take her back.
- In The Expendables 2, it is shown that he stayed with her, despite Barney's disapproval.
- In To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, when the drag queens hear Virgil beating Carol Anne, Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) thrashes him soundly, ending with the delivery of a bum's rush out the screen door. All without mussing her pink satin peignoir.
Vida: So, I gather you like hitting ladies.
Virgil: Some ladies need to get hit.
Vida: Then, conversely, some men need to be hit back.
- In Sling Blade, a man (Billy Bob Thornton) has been released from a mental hospital, supposedly cured. He discovers a nice lady he knows and her son are being brutalized by a sadist, so he kills the man, then calls the police and ends up going back to the looney bin.
- John Kramer, aka the Jigsaw Killer in the Saw series. In Saw IV, one of the people he kidnaps and puts in deathtraps is a man who was abusing his wife and daughter. The trap that the wife-basher himself was in had him and his wife chained up with spikes going through both of them. In the Hannibal Lecture that John Kramer delivers through the tape, it is revealed that the spikes are going through his vital arteries and her non-vital arteries and the wife is meant to yank the spikes herself, killing him and allowing her to get away and go get help. She does.
- Suicide Kings: Denis Leary's character Lono delivers a speech about domestic violence to an abusive father. When the man refuses to take the warning, Lono picks up a toaster and beats the guy into a pulp with it.
- In Goodfellas, when Henry finds out his then-girlfriend-future-wife Karen was sexually assaulted by one of her neighbors, he promptly walks to his house and pistol-whips him in broad daylight, then threatens to murder him. This action likely had a hand in causing Karen to marry him, as she admits in her narration that it turned her on.
- In Tank, Command Sergeant-Major Zak Carey was visiting the base hospital, where he discovers a woman is being treated for bruises which are clearly the result of her husband beating her. He looks up who she is, and has her husband — another Marine — called in to his office, where he sees him privately with the door closed. He politely tells the guy that he needs to get counseling, that he can't be assaulting his wife, it's private, and it won't show on his record. He says that if the guy has unresolved anger issues, he'd be happy to go in the ring with him and fight him. The guy blows him off by saying it's his business, and gets up to leave. Zak comes around to the front of his desk, and without even raising his voice, proceeds to chew him out, clearly angry. "Listen, I'm going to watch that hospital, and if your wife or your kid comes in there again because you hit either of them, I will come after you. The stockade won't mean shit to me. My pension won't mean shit to me. I swear to God that I will destroy you in place. Now you will get counseling, that's an order. Dismissed."
- At the end of Jack Reacher, the titular hero boards a bus to leave the city. However, in the back, a woman is clearly being beaten by her abusive boyfriend, with the other passengers trying to pretend not to notice. Jack, on the other hand, gets up from his seat to presumably beat the crap out of the boyfriend before the film cuts to credits.
Live Action TV
- Part of Mike Ehrmantraut's Start of Darkness in Breaking Bad resulted from this. When he was still a beat cop, he would regularly receive domestic abuse calls from one couple, but the abused wife would never press charges. Eventually, Mike got fed up, took him out into the desert, and threatened to kill him should he ever hurt his wife again. The man promised to never do it again, yet he ended up killing his wife, and Mike is implied to have made good on his promise.
- An interesting variation occurs in the Very Special Episode of A Different World about domestic abuse. When the abuser is confronted about the rumors by one of his friends, he tells a story of a time when he tried to save a woman who was being slapped by her boyfriend in the street... and she called the cops on him. He says he learned two things that day: that every man can lose it sometimes and that whatever happens between a man and a woman is no one else's business. It is truly chilling that the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished lesson he learned from the incident seems to be part of his justification for abusing his girlfriend.
- Fortunately, his friend decides to make it his business and calls the cops on him.
- In the White Collar episode "Home Invasion", Caffrey is taking part in a sting to catch his first killer (she is also an art thief). However, Alex comes up to him and unwittingly blows his cover, causing the murderess to run away from him. He catches her outside and tries to restrain her, only for her to notice several construction workers nearby and call for help. Long story short, they came over and began beating up Caffrey, allowing the villainess to escape. Peter was able to save his partner from getting beaten too badly, but they still lost the killer.
- In Burn Notice, it's implied that Jesse was removed as a field agent because he couldn't resist this trope, even while undercover.
"Turns out some guys can watch a dude smack his girlfriend around in a bar ... some guys can't."
- In an earlier episode, Michael's target happens to be abusive to his wife and stepchildren. This triggers Mike's Berserk Button, and he allows himself to let out some frustrations every time they meet.
"Please, for someone smacking his wife and kid around, Michael will take on the Chinese Army."
- Then there is the episode where a woman claimed that her abusive husband attacked her then took their child. It turns out the woman murdered the wife and was using Mike's Berserk Button to track the man down.
- In the Cold Case episode 'The Brush Man', The Victim, a door to door brush salesman named Roy Dunn, is revealed to have gone to prison after killing a wife beater in a bar fight. Before his death, he had been keeping a close eye on a family of three, which included giving free brushes to the wife of the family, Diane, and playing baseball with the son of the family, Kevin. This arouses the suspicion of the father of the family, Glenn, who Roy distrusts. Glenn makes Roy take back the brushes he gave Diane and tries to keep his son away from him. Roy later finds Diane crying and comforts her; Diane is upset because her husband mistreats and lies to her, saying he is at work when he is not. Kevin sees Roy and his mother and runs off; Roy goes after him to make sure he did not get the wrong impression. Kevin tells Roy that he had caught his father cottaging in the park and that he had had his wrist broken as 'punishment.' This angers the wife-basher basher Roy, who finds Glenn in his work-shop at night. Roy adopts a threatening tone and tells Glenn to leave his family and let them live their life. Glenn insists that Roy has no right to intrude on his 'family life' and that he will never leave. Roy than tells Glenn that he knows about his homosexuality and Glenn becomes more hesitant, but still reiterates that he will not leave. Roy than throws a punch at Glenn that sends him flying backwards; as Glenn scrambles to regain his footing, he grabs a pair of scissors and plants them into Roy's neck, killing him.
- Roy tells Glenn that he has an eye for people like him and that he can't ignore it like other people on the street or like they 'taught him to in jail'. It is suggested that Roy had experienced domestic abuse as a child in one scene in which he tells Kevin "My House was not a place you'd like to be".
- Another episode of Cold Case had a cop as the abusive spouse to his wife, with the abuse starting to extend to his three-year-old twin girls. A rookie cop found out about it and gave him a preliminary beatdown with a warning to leave the wife he was abusing and stop beating up his little girls. He mentions "That's how we dealt with abusers back then. Off the books." Unfortunately, the rookie started to get close to the wife and the twin girls himself, causing the abuser to come back and kill one of the girls. The wife abandoned the other one in a church and ran away, feeling she would never escape him. The cop ended up dead in a firefight some months later, and the rookie (now an old man) all but admits he shot the guy himself in the chaos. The detectives, disgusted by the abuser and approving of him, decide not to charge him.
- In the Boardwalk Empire pilot, Nucky has Margaret's husband killed after he beats her so badly she miscarries.
- Third Watch's Boscorelli is like this, especially if the woman in question is his mother or partner Faith. He grew up watching his mother get beaten by his father and her subsequent boyfriends and also Wouldn't Hit a Girl because of it.
- Shane finally beats the resident wife-basher to a red pulp during episode 3. Of course, he is more into releasing his sexual frustration than anything else.
- Sons of Anarchy has Jax beat the shit out of a guy who beat his girl. Of course, the guy was also sitting on Jax's motorcycle, so he had it coming either way.
- Angel, a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire who's usually fighting supernatural villains, does take take time out to Cold Open one episode by rescuing a girl who's about to be attacked by her abusive boyfriend. He jumps in right as the boyfriend's giving her a preemptive Why Did You Make Me Hit You?...
- Awesomely, Bobby Singer of Supernatural was revealed to have been one of these to his own abusive father.
- Horatio Caine from CSI: Miami can really lose himself when facing people that abuse women (and children). He is known to lock up the interrogation room and take matters into his own hands.
- Gil Grissom from regular CSI is restrained enough not to go that far, but he does have three things he can't stand, and men who hit their wives/girlfriends is one of them.
- CSI NY's Mac Taylor isn't immune from it either, though unlike Horatio, his temper is usually restrained enough to just get in their face when confronting them with the evidence and then tell the escorts to get the guy out before it gets worse.
- Stella as well to a point.
- In Roseanne, when Dan finds out Jackie's boyfriend is beating her up, he goes over and does the same to him. In a bit of a subversion, he explains he first tried to scare him off and it escalated into a fist-fight, and he winds up spending the night in jail when charges get pressed. Also, when he gets home, the show does tackle the Unfortunate Implication of violence-vs-violence when he attempts to explain the situation to his son.
Dan: Look.... it's not okay to beat up anyone, it's never okay to beat up women, but sometimes it's less not okay to beat up somebody when they beat up somebody you love.
- An episode of ER had Dr. Benton treating a woman who had been beaten by her husband (she denies it initially, but it becomes obvious when her story gets inconsistent). The husband happens to be a cop. When the cop and his partner arrive at the hospital to pick his wife up, Benton blasts him for his treatment of his wife. The partner doesn't say much, but later in the episode, the cop himself is brought into the ER, accompanied by the partner and several other police officers. When Benton asks what happened, the partner claims that the man fell down a flight of stairs while they were pursuing a suspect, but the strong implication is that he and the other cops took the guy somewhere and beat the crap out of him.
- Also on ER, after Abby is beaten by the abusive husband of her neighbor (Abby had helped the woman get into a shelter and refused to tell him where she was), her ex-boyfriend Luka tracks the guy down at a local bar and proceeds to beat the crap out of him, reducing him to a sniveling wimp, and finishing his beatdown by warning him, "You touch her again, I'll kill you".
- Person of Interest:
- Somewhat of a meta example: Between takes for the pilot, when the crew was filming in a less than pleasant part of New York City, Jim Caviezel, one of the main actors on the show, ducked into an alley where a drunk guy was beating up a woman; Caviezel clobbered the drunk, then sat him down on the pavement and proceeded to dish out some relationship advice. The meta comes in the second episode in the series, where Jim Caviezel's character John Reese takes out several hitmen sent to take out a guy whose wife had caught him cheating, *then* he proceeds to dish out relationship advice to the now cowering cheater.
- His character plays it straight later on when it is revealed that he deliberately beat the abusive husband of his ex-girlfriend Jessica to death after learning that he killed her.
- In another episode Reese deals with a US Marshal who's using the resources of his service to track down his abused ex-wife. After storming into the New York office of the US Marshals and delivering an ineffective warning to back off, then intervening in a murder-suicide attempt, he drops the Marshal in a Mexican prison with falsified papers so he can't get back out.
- A variation in the fifth season of Dexter: The Child Basher Basher. When Dexter discovers that a friend of his stepdaughter is being abused by her mother's boyfriend, he immediately takes action. He finds the guy and gives him an in-depth lesson on what hitting different parts of the body does to the victim, while hitting him in those locations. He then tells him to get out, STAT, and never come back. Appropriately, of course, Dexter is a Serial-Killer Killer.
- He also came up with a ploy to get rid of Rita's abusive ex-husband Paul without killing him. Unfortunately, Dexter ended up indirectly responsible for his death anyway.
- In Justified:
- Ellison Limehouse takes in battered women who are fleeing their abusive husbands and boyfriends. Years before, when Arlo stormed into Noble's Holler to retrieve Francis, Limehouse gave him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. That Raylan and Arlo both remember to this day.
- Season 4 reveals Johnny Crowder to be one, even though he's not up to delivering the bashing himself. When he believes that one of his hookers, Terri, is being abused by a regular customer named Max, Johnny shows up at Max's house with Colt in tow, and has Colt deliver a brutal beating that nearly kills the man. When he finds out that it was actually Colt who hit Terri, Johnny blackmails him for thousands of dollars while plotting to get rid of him.
- In Dragnet, Joe Friday was like this. There was one Dragnet ep in the late '60s version where he got in the face of a police woman trainee's boyfriend because he was getting huffy and threatening (though he never actually hit her).
- One episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, a woman takes advantage of this by informing her boss/lover that his other girlfriend's husband is abusive, knowing that this is his Berserk Button. His mother was murdered by her dealer when he was a boy, so learning this drives him into a homicidal fury - and it's implied he wasn't exactly thinking clearly. While he is still arrested for the murder of the abusive husband, the detectives make sure to get the woman behind it as well.
- On episode four of the Japanese drama Nobuta Wo Produce, while planning a surprise for Shuji's birthday, Akira and Nobuta overhear Bando getting beaten by her boyfriend and Akira hilariously steps in, beating up her boyfriend with his expert karate skills while lecturing him on how he shouldn't be hitting the one person he should be taking the most care of in the world and how a girl's heart is made of glass so you should never hit her. The boyfriend seems more confused than beaten up, though, and we have no idea if it worked, because he's never seen again — probably because his character was introduced as a reason why Bando bullies and beats up people, ESPECIALLY Nobuta: her boyfriend abuses her and she takes it out on Nobuta. It all works out though, in the end.
- Female examples are rare, and when they do show up, it's usually their own husband they're bashing, but Harry's Law had the case of a woman who was a serial Wife Basher Basher, her victims all strangers.
- In Grimm, Juliette's college roommate Alicia runs away from her abusive husband. Nick is supportive, even when he finds out that Alicia is a Fuchsbau (a fox-like Wesen). The viewers also find out that her husband Joe is a Klaustreich (a cat-like Wesen who are known to be jerks). At the end of the episode, Joe breaks into Nick and Juliette's place and attacks the women. To everyone's surprise, it's Juliette who turns out to fit this trope, beating the crap out of the guy even after he goes full woge on her. Only after he's down does Nick come in with his gun, scaring Joe with the realization that Nick is a Grimm, whereas before he didn't care that Nick was a cop. Presumably, just the threat of Alicia's best friend living with a Grimm is enough to keep Joe away from her.
- The narrator from Nickelback's Never Again. All the more wrenching because it's implied the narrator is the man's son, who is too young to do anything about it.
Father's a name you haven't earned yet
You're just a child with a temper
Haven't you heard "Don't hit a lady"?
Kickin' your ass would be a pleasure
- The song "Mary Can You Come Outside" by Kane.
Should I sit here on these hands of mine one more time?
Or should I use them on him the way he does on you?
- The Bowling for Soup song 99 Biker Friends has the singer, apparently a friend of the abused wife/girlfriend, who is considering calling in his friends to teach the abuser a lesson
It takes a tough man to slap her around.
Such a bad guy to keep such a good girl down.
She's wearing shades but we all see
Behind the tinted glass.
And I've got 99 biker friends
That wanna kick your ass.
- Alice Cooper's "Hell Comes Home" is about a kid plotting to shoot his father for beating his mother.
- In Goodbye, Earl, by The Dixie Chicks, the wife-basher basher is the wife's female best friend from school, and she doesn't stop at beating up the abusive husband:
Well, it wasn't two weeks after she got married
that Wanda started gettin' abused
She put on dark glasses and long sleeved blouses
And make-up to cover her bruise
Well, she finally got the nerve to file for divorce
She let the law take it from there
But Earl walked right through that restraining order
And put her in intensive care.
Right away Mary Anne flew in from Atlanta on a red-eye midnight flight
She held Wanda's hand and they worked out a plan
And it didn't take them long to decide that Earl had to die
- Sealed With A Fist by Exodus (band) is an aggressive tale about a battered wife unloading a full clip on her abusive husband.
When she took your hand in marriage
It didn't mean right across the face
Small woman, big man, it takes a lot of guts
You're just a pussy in the first place
But now that your wedding chamber's
The one the bullet's in
Brave man, look at you, not so tough
When the hammer's cockin'.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Black Furies, an all-female tribe of Garou devoted to protecting wild places, women, and children. Their tribal code of conduct forbids members from turning a blind eye to violence against women. According to the first edition tribebook, they kill men who commit domestic violence or sexual assault.
- Assassins Creed II has optional side missions where you can defend women's honor by beating the snot out of their philandering husbands (the whole chain starts off when Ezio tracks down his sister's boyfriend, Duccio, for breaking her heart and spreading rumors about her). You run into the guy again in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and he's still talking garbage about Claudia all these years later, having learned that she runs the Rosa in Fiore brothel (albeit for Brotherhood-related reasons.) This time, Ezio defeats him along with several goons he brings along, and knocks him unconscious when he refuses to keep his mouth shut. Needless to say, by the time Assassin's Creed: Revelations rolls around, Duccio has learned his lesson, and he runs away in terror, referring to Ezio as the Devil himself.
- One of the side missions in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood begins with Ezio talking with the abused wife of a signmaker who makes propaganda for the Borgias, conveniently making him a target.
- Assassins Creed III has optional homestead missions where you defend the tailor and her daughter from her abusive husband.
- Blazblue: Despite the fact that he's a totally perverted skirt-chasing jerk, if you hurt a woman in Kagura Mutsuki's presence, then the last few moments of your life will probably seriously suck. Just ask Arakune, Ragna and Azrael.
- Beating up a female in The Warriors will get certain male types to attack you for beating up a woman. However, the men that come out for this are no stronger than a regular NPC civilian, so they are just as easy to fight.
- You can take sidequests to do this in The Godfather 2.
- Near the end of Mafia II's story, Vito gets a call from his hysterical sister that her husband hasn't come home. Vito tracks him down (in the middle of banging a hooker at a party) and beats the snot out of him, threatening to kill him if he hurts his sister or is anything less than a stellar husband. It comes back to bite Vito when she tells him she wants nothing to do with him anymore.
- The Flash game Anaksha Female Assassin has this as the title character's original motivation for picking up her rifle. Although in this case it's less Wife-Basher Basher and more Wife Basher Head Shooter.
- In Quest for Glory IV the player befriends a Rusalka, a water spirit who was betrayed by her lover who gets her "revenge" by seducing men and drowning them. In order to let her move on to the afterlife, the Paladin has to visit justice upon her killer — since he's already dead, this involves dredging up his ghost and kicking its spectral butt all over the graveyard. For an added twist of the knife, the guy's tombstone claims he was faithful and tried to save her from drowning.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, Trevor tears off Mexican drug lord Martin Madrazo's ear for the abuse he dishes out towards his wife, Patricia. When he eventually returns her home after kidnapping her for awhile, Trevor threatens to come back for the other one if he finds out he's mistreating her again.
- In Suicide for Hire, Arcturus is normally (more or less) the Only Sane Man; he tries to dissuade their "clientele" and doesn't usually enjoy the killing as much as his partner Hunter. When a man who beat his wife to the point where she sought the pair out and utilized their services comes in... he changes his tune and participates enthusiastically in the Karmic Death.
- Questionable Content lampshades why this is actually a Double Standard; you're unlikely to see this trope inverted.
- A brief long delayed female example in The Order of the Stick is present in this strip when Haley justifies her willingness to slay one particular rogue out of many she knew on the basis of him being a wife-beater just before unleashing a arrow filled full attack on him.
- Will, from Super Powereds, is this to his sisters abusive boyfriend, in a legitimately creepy manner. He uses his genius to take over the guys car, controlling it from afar. He also reroutes all calls and messages from the guy to his sister, so that she is never the wiser about what happened.
- Zeke Strahm of Seeking Truth kicked off his relationship with Lizzie by beating up her abusive father. He's also not very fond of Albert Conaghan, the serial rapist and Karma Houdini whose sick pastime is likely what got him the attention of Tall, Dark, and Faceless himself.
- The Nostalgia Critic is known to do this with his gun, even trying to shoot Lady Tremaine for abusing Cinderella so much.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the supervillainous Cheesecake intentionally evoked this trope by having Mustang, one of her (also female) partners in crime, rough her up while in her Secret Identity, then arranging to be found by one of the heroes. After the hero "taught a lesson" to the completely innocent man whom Cheesecake blamed for the assault, the hero was convicted and thrown in jail himself.
- Popeye, the spinach-eating sailor, is notorious for walloping Bluto whenever the big guy makes one move too many on Olive Oyl, which is in nearly every cartoon. Olive may be often receptive to Bluto's aggressive flirting, but she still doesn't deserve to be forced into anything if she changes her mind about it.
- Popeye kind of blunders into this one; he's generally ready to beat the tar out of Bluto when he starts putting the moves on Olive, but he only holds off because she'd be mad at him — or, often as not, he doesn't hold off, and she gets mad at him. Still, because he's Bluto, it doesn't matter that he's successfully charmed her, eventually he starts getting rough with her, which means Popeye is free and clear to open up a can of... spinach.
- Glenn Quagmire becomes this in the Family Guy episode "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q." in regards to him willing to murder his sister's abusive boyfriend. Joe (a police officer) allows him to do it after seeing the abuse for himself.