The crab theory is based on the metaphor of what happens when you put several crabs together in a bucket. The crabs crawl over each other, trying to get out of the bucket, and in the process, none of them escape because they keep pulling each other back down.
This is something that many communities struggle with, including the Deaf community. For a long time, Deaf people have provided each other with a network of support and mutual understanding and commitment. They still do. However, back when it was more difficult for Deaf people to become successful due to discrimination, an invisible standard–a status quo–was established. Anyone who then stepped outside of the status quo immediately became a product of “the crab theory.”
So, for example, if someone decided that they wanted to work somewhere other than in printing or for the post office, they were then labeled “HEARING-MINDED.” HEARING-MINDED is a sign that means “think like a person who is not like us.” That is how the crab theory goes.!