but it wasn't in the 1960s, it was in the 1760s.
The permissive era was fuelled by the transgressive high societies of the 18th century, according to academics.
The commonly held idea that the 1700s were relatively prim and proper - aside from the demi-monde of brothels and street prostitution - is being challenged at a conference in Edinburgh, starting tomorrow. Scholars will present illicit sexuality as having a crucial yet underplayed presence in culture during that time.
From an electrical celestial bed to aid conception developed by Scots doctor James Graham - the country's first sex guru - to pornography, cross-dressing, homosexuality and birth control, it is being argued that the sexual revolution happened 200 years earlier than previously thought.
Academics say pioneering sexual ideas were sparked by the Scottish Enlightenment and continue to shape contemporary society.
Novels such as Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, as played by Alex Kingston, left, were studied, along with other evidence that suggests the 1700s were not as straightlaced as they appear.
Edinburgh University PhD student Jordan Mearns, an organiser of the Politeness And Prurience conference, said the capital's upper classes were a major driver of revolution.
"Scotland was an intellectual centre in the 18th century and Edinburgh was seen as the home of polite society, forward thinking and academics," he said.
"When people think of 18th-century sexuality they think of brothels and the seedy underworld, but we're looking at sex as a major part of the social elite and polite society.
"There is this idea that sex is separate from mainstream culture of that time but in fact it was a big part of it.
"People like Dr James Graham, who was born in Edinburgh and educated as a medical doctor, were at the forefront at this time."
The conference will discuss the influence Graham had on attitudes about sexual pleasure after he opened a Temple Of Health at the Adelphi building, London, in 1780.
Men and women flocked to his lectures to discover the secrets behind his Grand State Celestial Bed, launched at the Temple of Hymen in 1781 in Pall Mall, where lovers could perform under a mirrored dome, with music playing in the background and stimulating gases swirling around them.
Mearns, 28, said: "He created that bed for people to have sex in and he argued that it increased potency in males and fertility in females.
"The bed wasn't used by the underworld, sex at that time was not just about dirty London brothels.
"It was the polite societies who came to Dr Graham for sex and health benefits.
"It's a bit like the equivalent of the Harley Street clinic today."
The conference, which is being hosted by the history of art department at Edinburgh College of Art, will run until Tuesday.
Tales of same-sex "marriages" and homoeroticism will be examined, while speakers include Professor George Haggerty of the University of California Riverside and Dr Caroline Gonda from Cambridge University.
Dr Faramerz Dabhoiwala, author of The Origins Of Sex: A History Of The First Sexual Revolution, will present a public lecture.
Mearns said the idea to readdress sexual culture in the 1700s came after conversations with tutor Dr Viccy Coltman.
He said: "We realised that people look at sex as being an alternative history, but sex is a part of the whole story.
"For example, in the 18th century there were collectors of sculptures of naked women and we found it interesting the way men viewed them as great works of art but they also found them erotic.
"Historians typically look at court trials and legal papers to document sex through history - but that just shows the dirty or seedy side of it. Our evidence comes from literature, theatre, art and mainstream figures."