I always wondered, before Serenity (The Movie) if the Reavers weren't misunderstood. They were the Indians in Firefly's Wild West universe. The "civilzed" people looked at this other group as flesh-eating savages without morals or structure when in reality they did.
I just took it as more of the all-white Wheadonverse nonsense. The majority of his characters seem to be from some sort of all white middle class American background. While he may be good at (allegedly) treating woman with much respect on screen, anyone who isn't WASPish fades into the background. Much in the same way that there seem to be very few Asians in the Firefly universe, despite the abundance of cultural artifacts to suggest otherwise.
I saw the Reavers as analogies to the Indians of the old black and white films, never much more than savages who turn up to threaten the wagon trains heading east. Any notion of sophistication out the window.